NEWARK, NJ — Newark announced it will honor it's Martin Luther King, Jr. Day traditions via remote alternatives this year due to COVID-19 concerns, marking the first time in 33 years that the city has not hosted an in-person audience. 

The city’s Jan. 18 MLK Day observance, normally held at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, will feature a keynote address from Reverend Dr. William Barber, president and senior lecturer at Repairers of the Breach and leader of the Forward Together Moral Movement. 

Past observances have drawn crowds for remarks by Academy Award-winning actor Harry Belafonte, Rev. Jesse Jackson,  scholar Cornel West and King’s daughter, Rev. Bernice King. King’s legacy still has a lasting impact in Newark — the civil rights leader delivered one of his final speeches at what is now Malcolm X Shabazz High school. 

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The lower-level rotunda of Newark City Hall was also renovated in 2014 in memoriam of King’s 1968 visit. 

In addition to Barber’s keynote, gospel musicians Charles Butler & Trinity will deliver performances along with singer Kierra Sheard. Viewers can watch the celebration can be on the city’s Facebook page, or on its Government Access TV stations, Channel 78 (Altice), or Channel 28 (FIOS).