The celebration for the national holiday kicks off Jan. 14 as Irving Arts Center’s Second Sunday Funday program draws inspiration from Martin Luther King Jr.’s message of peace, love and equality. Attendees can take part in a guided craft program that’s fun for the whole family from 1 to 4 p.m. The following day, Jan. 15, the Irving, Carrollton and Farmers Branch NAACP host the annual MLK Spaghetti Lunch from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Georgia Farrow Recreation Center, 530 Davis St.
On Jan. 21, Irving Parks and Recreation and the Irving Arts Center will present “Freedom Riders,” a new play with original songs and music produced by Mad River Theater Works. Two performances will be held: 2:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. at the Irving Arts Center, 3333 N. MacArthur Blvd., Carpenter Performance Hall. Tickets for the performances are available on a first-come, first-served basis. No advance tickets will be available. Offered in conjunction with “This Light of Ours: Activist Photographers of the Civil Rights Movement,” a major traveling exhibition organized by the Center for Documentary Expression and Art in Salt Lake City, Utah. The exhibition documents the Civil Rights Movement through the work and voices of nine activist photographers. It will be on display Jan. 13 - March 4 in the Main Gallery at the Irving Arts Center.
Mad River Theater Works’ “Freedom Riders” demonstrates the importance of working together to affect change and specifically how nonviolent protest was used to combat the cruelties of segregation. Freedom riders ― both black and white, mostly young Americans ― decided to travel together on buses that crossed state lines purposefully disregarding the hateful segregation practices that were still commonplace in so many parts of the United States. The play, recommended for ages 9 and older, explores the valiant and courageous personalities behind one of the most critical chapters in the history of the civil rights movement.
Following each performance, Irving Community Television Network Producer Cathy Whiteman will moderate a post-show question-and-answer segment, featuring two of the 13 original Freedom Riders, William E. Harbour and Charles Person. Harbour and Person will be presented 2018 Civil Rights Legacy Awards. For more information, visit IrvingArtsCenter.com or call the Irving Arts Center box office at (972) 252-2787, noon to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Admission is free for all celebration activities. Free tickets will be distributed beginning one hour prior to each show time. Must be present to receive a ticket. No advance reservations.