The national dialogue around ethnic and race relations has been especially heated in recent months. I hope that you won’t allow current tensions to distract or dissuade you from participating in activities honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King on the January 17-19 holiday weekend. Here are some of the best options to make your holiday weekend both meaningful and enjoyable.

Each day, our city’s community centers connect Nashvillians of all ages with valuable resources.Hands On Nashville is recruiting volunteers to brighten and improve four Metro Parks Community Centers as part of a its MLK Days of Service campaign. More than 800 volunteers are needed on Saturday, Jan. 17 and Monday, Jan. 19 to support these important neighborhood spaces. Activities such as painting and cleaning are scheduled to take place in the morning; volunteer shifts will end around lunchtime.

After a Saturday shift of painting and cleaning, how about lunch at one of Nashville’s outstanding ethnic restaurants? Many of these family-owned restaurants are run by first-generation immigrants, who take pride in serving delicious and authentic dishes of their homeland to their new hometown neighbors. Among my favorites in South Nashville are Guantanamera Restaurant on Nolensville Rd. near Grassmere, and Gojo Ethiopian Restaurant on W. Thompson Lane.

Not all of us are of an age where we can fully recall or appreciate Dr. King’s efforts to promote integration and equality in the U.S. (and particularly in the South). The Selma movie (rated PG-13) dramatizes his hard-fought efforts to end discrimination in voter registration – efforts that culminated in the signing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. This movie is currently being widely shown at Regal and Carmike theaters – go with a friend or loved one, and plan time after the movie for discussion.

Sunday’s observances across Nashville will be largely church-centered, but some Nashvillians were fortunate enough to get tickets for Let Freedom Sing, held Sunday evening at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center downtown. This free event features the Nashville Symphony Orchestra and special guests performing a mix of spirituals, popular songs and classical music honoring the triumphs of the civil rights movement. Unfortunately, no tickets remain for this event.

Vanderbilt University is sponsoring a weekend-long schedule of events and observances for the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  holiday weekend, culminating with a Monday afternoon of “Teach-Ins” and an evening keynote address by former U.N. ambassador, the Honorable Andrew Young. Tickets are free and available to the public (limit 4 per person) at the Vanderbilt Sarratt box office.

Thanks for reading my blogpost at SoundsLikeFunNashville.com. Please follow me to make sure you don’t miss future posts.

Written by Margaret

Sounds Like Fun - Nashville is a labor of love - my love for Music City, Middle Tennessee, and experiencing the best that our area has to offer. In recent years, I've developed an informal following among my friends and professional colleagues. People ask me what I've got planned for an upcoming weekend – or seek advice about good activities for showing visiting friends or relatives around the Nashville/Middle Tennessee area. Even though there are other sites with event calendars, I think followers of my blog can expect some extra insight into goings-on that would suit ‘most anyone seeking to experience the diversity of fun and interesting things to do around town. I'm always on the look-out for good places to walk my dog. Maggie is a 10-year-old mixed breed shelter dog who still becomes comically ecstatic when she sees me pick up a leash. She's my inspiration to start a page featuring great dog walks around Nashville.

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