Monday is Martin Luther King Jr. Day and February is Black History Month. In honor of King’s legacy and the impact that African-American history has made on the U.S., area organizations are planning free public events in coming weeks.


On Monday at Esbie Baptist Church, 611 Ash St., Strasburg,will hold its annual Martin Luther King prayer breakfast. The Rev. Dr. Donald Reid, pastor of Mt. Paran Baptist Church in Linden, is the guest speaker.  Service begins at 9 a.m. and breakfast will be served at the conclusion of morning service.  

In Front Royal, the NAACP Warren/Page Branch will host a ceremony from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. at the Warren County Community Center, 538 Villa Ave.

The Rev. Ed Dawkins, pastor at Nineveh Presbyterian Church, will speak, and the event will include singing and remarks about King.

The event has been going on for about eight to 10 years, said the Rev. Al Woods, senior vice president of the local NAACP. He invites the community to come out in support of King’s legacy.

At Shenandoah University in Winchester, the theme of several upcoming events will be "Resistance, Resilience and Activism." Activities include:

• 3 to 4 p.m. Monday, Associate Professor of History Ann Denkler and Director of Shenandoah University's McCormick Civil War Institute Jonathan Noyalas will discuss the experiences of the Shenandoah Valley's enslaved in the decades leading up to and during the Civil War, in Goodson Chapel; 4:30-5 p.m., the Harambee Gospel Choir will perform; 5-6 p.m., service of remembrance with Coordinator of Undergraduate Music Therapy Hakeem Leonard.

• 10 to 11 a.m. Tuesday, Mangyang Yeath Kur, founder and director of the Humanity Helping Sudan Project, will present a program in Armstrong Hall; 1-2 p.m., Kur will discuss the South Sudanese refugee crisis and his company 734 Coffee, which gives back to the Sudanese people; 7-8 p.m., Professor of Sport Management Brian Wigley will talk about the 1968 Olympic protest exploring the little-known Olympic Project for Human Rights, the influence of prominent sociologist Harry Edwards, and how athletics played a role in the Civil Rights Movement.

• 3 to 4 p.m. Wednesday, a performance by Conservatory students illustrating the theme of persistence and resistance through music and dance, in Goodson Chapel-Recital Hall.

• A ball pit will be open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday in the Brandt Student Center encouraging students to talk about difficult topics.

Several service projects are set for the week, including a Rise Against Hunger food packaging event from 1-3 p.m. Monday in Shingleton Gymnasium and a Food Recovery Network meal packaging event from 7-p.m. Wednesday in Allen Dining Hall.

The week concludes with a slave cemetery mapping project from 12:30-4 p.m. Friday in Middletown. For a schedule of events, visit or email Amy Sarch at Registration may be required for some events.

Monday is a federal and state holiday, so area public schools and libraries will be closed.

Black History

In Edinburg, the Shenandoah County Library plans to honor the county’s rich African-American history with the program “Bondage Biographies.”

At a 6:30 p.m. program on Feb. 25, the library at 514 Stoney Creek Blvd. will host the free program featuring the work of archivist Zachary Hottel and other library staff and volunteers, who have compiled a database of enslaved people who lived in Shenandoah County.

"It’s often kind of a forgotten or overlooked topic," Hottel said of black history. He said the program's goal is to "promote some of those lost stories, that lost history.”

Including biographical information obtained from legal records and other primary sources, the effort is helping tell the stories of about 750 slaves named in the database, which has about 4,300 entries, Hottel said.

He said people trying to research slaves who lived in the county will be able to search by name, family, the name of the enslaver, or other information like location.

He hopes it will "bring some more of their story to light.”

The program will discuss the database and highlight the “stories of selected enslaved persons who were identified during this project,” the release says.

For more information, contact Zachary Hottel at 540-984-8200 or at

At Samuels Public Library, 330 Criser Road, Front Royal, February events will include a discussion of African-American author Toni Morrison’s book “The Bluest Eye,” at the Books and Beyond book club.

The library is also working with Belle Grove Plantation in Middletown on a program about how archaeology can paint a more complete picture of the enslaved people who lived there, said Kitti McKean, adult reference supervisor.

The program is scheduled for Feb. 20. Call the library at 540-635-3153 or visit

Contact Josette Keelor at