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Boston’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast re-imagined as three-part virtual event

Representative Ayanna Pressley greeted audience members at Boston's MLK Memorial Breakfast in 2020.Erin Clark / Globe Staff/The Boston Globe

Boston’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Breakfast is set to take place online this year and has been reimagined as a three-part celebration honoring King’s legacy.

The event, in its 52nd year, originally was planned as a hybrid occasion, where guests would have the option of attending online or in person. But it was made exclusively virtual because of the recent surge in coronavirus cases.

This year, events will take place over three days. On Monday, MLK Day, the breakfast will feature speakers, music, and a breakfast “love feast” in which attendees will be able to “share a meal” from the comfort of their own homes.

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A March 15 round table will celebrate female leadership in the civil rights movement, and on April 4 an award ceremony will be held.

Last year, the celebration was pre-recorded. This year, the lengthy ceremonies will be broadcasted live over Zoom, but split up into three sessions. Recordings of parts of the event will be available on the organizing committee’s website for anyone unable to attend live online.

The observances carry special meaning in Boston, which King considered his second home. It is where he met his wife, Coretta Scott King, in the early 1950s, and he earned his doctorate from Boston University while living in the South End.

The events are organized by the Martin Luther King Memorial Breakfast Committee Inc., a nonprofit affiliated with St. Cyprian’s Episcopal Church in Roxbury and Union United Methodist Church in the South End. The committee seeks to promote harmony among the people of Greater Boston by honoring the memory of King and is dedicated to bringing about tangible change in the nation’s systemic inequities and injustices to pursue King’s vision.

The theme of this year’s breakfast is “From Resistance to Representation: Black Women Proving the Dream.”

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Monday’s celebration kicks off at 9 a.m. The keynote speaker is Annette Gordon-Reed, historian, Harvard Law professor, and author of the 2021 Pulitzer Prize-winning book “On Juneteenth.”

The March 15 round table on women leadership will feature a tribute from Senator Elizabeth Warren and panelists Representative Ayanna Pressley, US Attorney Rachael Rollins, state Senator Sonia Chang-Díaz, state Representative Liz Miranda, and Boston City Councilor Julia Mejia.

The April 4 awards ceremony and will be headlined by Senator Ed Markey and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healy. The committee will present “Drum Majors for Justice” awards to accomplished women and organizations that empower women, and scholarship awards to students from participating schools.

In a collaborative effort with Northeastern University, the committee will sponsor two hybrid/teach-in events on the Northeastern University campus at the Cabral Center in the John D. O’Bryant African American Institute.

The first teach-in, on Jan. 26, will focus on civic engagement and activism. The second, on March 31, will highlight women in entrepreneurship. Participants have the option to attend the teach-in sessions virtually or in person.

“Black women really help make these movements happen, especially in the civil rights movement,” said the Rev. Kyle Walden, an associate pastor at Union Church Boston and a member of the breakfast committee. “And so while MLK has become the paragon of the civil rights movement, we want to be part of that movement of remembering and re-emphasizing the role of Black women, we want to celebrate their legacy.”

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Register for free at bostonmlkbreakfast.org. Donations are encouraged and can be made on the event website.


Rose Pecci can be reached at rose.pecci@globe.com.