Arlington’s Four-Day Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Advancing the Dream Celebrate Kicks Off Friday, Jan. 15
By Susan Schrock, Office of Communication
Posted on January 12, 2021, January 12, 2021

Arlington Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Advancing the Dream Celebration organizers are encouraging the Arlington community to make Monday, Jan. 18, 2021, a “day on, not a day off” from work. In response, one long-time Arlington business owner is offering an extra sweet incentive for those who volunteer their time and efforts during the Zeb Strong Jr. Arlington MLK Day of Service this year.

Kenner’s Kolache, which has been open at 2812 S. Cooper St. for the past 35 years, has offered to provide two made-from-scratch kolaches to Day of Service volunteers who stop by his shop the week of Jan. 18 and show a photo of their act of service. Owner David Kenner said he has donated pastries for the annual MLK Day of Service for at least 15 years and is inspired by the difference that volunteers make across the community in the name of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

“My part is easy. I’m not a Home Depot guy. I’m really terrible with tools,” Kenner said with a laugh. “This day should be a celebration of blessings. People are going out with power tools and whatever gifts they have to help their fellow humans. If more people did acts of kindness, the world would be a better place.”

David Kenner with Kenner's Kolache

The Day of Service on Monday, Jan. 18 is the culmination of Arlington’s annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Advancing the Dream Celebration, a four-day event that starts Friday, Jan. 15. This year’s celebration, which is themed “Advancing the Dream: Unifying Our Nation,” be held virtually because of the COVID-19 pandemic to protect public health. The University of Texas at Arlington, the City of Arlington, the Arlington Independent School District, Tarrant County College-Southeast Campus and the Arlington Ministerial Association are this year’s event organizers.

Click here to learn more about the 2021 Celebration.

To tune in to virtual activities scheduled throughout the weekend, please visit the event Facebook page at, watch #MyArlingtonTV (AT&T U-verse channel 99/Spectrum channel 16), or visit

For this year’s Day of Service, volunteers are encouraged to find opportunities in the community that they can participate in and still maintain appropriate social distancing. These could include making or buying face masks to donate to nonprofits, registering people to vote, cleaning a neighborhood or park, promoting cultural awareness or supporting essential workers. No matter how large or small the project, participants are encouraged to share their photos on social media using the tags #MLKDAYOFSERVICE and #ARLINGTONMLK.

Previous Arlington Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration event.

2021 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration

Friday, Jan. 15

The celebration kicks off at 6 p.m. Friday, Jan. 15 with guest speakers, recognition of high school art and essay contest winners, the Advancing the Dream Community Award winners, collegiate scholarship winners, the United States Postal Dedicated Stamp, and more.

This event would not be possible without the generous support of sponsors, including the Arlington Tomorrow Foundation and Atmos Energy. The Arlington Martin Luther King Celebration Committee has commissioned a song from local musician Ashleigh Smith to commemorate the 2021 Celebration and participants will hear from some of Arlington’s greatest choirs and AISD students with entertainment.

Winners of the 2021 MLK Essay Contest are:

  • 1st Place ($1,000): Riana Pinto (James Martin High School)
  • 2nd Place ($750): Randle Howard III (Uplift Summit Prep Academy)
  • 3rd Place ($500): Alexis Nguyen (Arlington Collegiate High School)

Winners of the 2021 MLK Art Contest are:

  • 1st Place ($1,000): Stephanie Martinez (10th grader at Bowie High School)
  • 2nd Place ($750): Corbin Jones (10th grader at Juan Seguin High School)
  • 3rd Place ($500): Kalyssa Gordan-Hay (9th grader at Juan Seguin High School)

Winners of the 2021 Collegiate Essay Contest are:

  • Caroline Lewis ($2,000 scholarship), TCC-SE
  • Xavien Johns ($2,000 scholarship), UTA 

Saturday, Jan. 16

10 a.m. MLK Step Show and Drum Line

This year's Step Show has been expanded to include the Drum Lines from Arlington Independent School District marching bands and will feature past performances from winning step teams. The virtual format has also allowed for the inclusion of a history of the tradition of stepping in this exciting, entertaining and educational two-hour production.

7 p.m. Poetry Meets Jazz with Verb Kulture

For 2021, this event has become open mic night at a virtual café hosted by Verb Kulture, artist, business owner, poet, actress and writer. The event will feature nationally known poets and a jazz band with an evening reflecting on Dr. King's legacy shared through music and the spoken word.

Sunday, Jan. 17

6 p.m. Hubert Moss Ecumenical Service

For nearly three decades, this service continues to evoke the memories of two servants of the church. One served as a global leader for justice and peace and the other served his community. In this spirit of cooperation, this service is a shared ecumenical experience for all. The keynote speaker is Dr. Dennis Wiles, senior pastor of the Arlington First Baptist Church. The service will be available virtually and will originate from Lake Arlington Baptist Church.

Monday, Jan. 18

10 a.m. MLK Day of Service Festival Virtual Celebration

This year, the Day of Service Celebration is virtual. Sit back and enjoy the event as we showcase some of the ways our community has adapted their programs and services to help aid in COVID-19 relief efforts across Arlington and DFW, listen to the moving words of this year’s high school Essay Contest winner, get lost in the beautiful movement as local dancers perform show-stopping numbers, feast your eyes on the one-of-a-kind works from this year's MLK Art Contest winners and so much more.

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