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Sandwiched between the historic attempted insurrection two weeks ago and the coming Presidential Inauguration, today may be one of the most significant Martin Luther King Jr. Days in decades.

So it’s only fitting that events honoring the day extend all week and into next week, in many online forms, and also throughout Iowa and Illinois. On the new TRM Calendar (updated today), our top pick for the week is a free viewing of “I Am Not Your Negro.” Showing at anytime through Thursday, this film is a documentary on author James Baldwin and his “plea to deal with America’s race problem” Another top pick online are today’s online book readings hosted by First Books. Authors Andrea Pinkney and Hena Kahn join a nationwide effort to bring books to tens of thousands of children in need.
Steven Willis (above) and Caleb Rainey, both award-winning spoken word artists, join together for an in-depth discussion on spoken word Wednesday. (video by C. Hawes for The Real MainStream at Sanctuary Pub, The Hook)

Another key highlight this week is Wednesday’s “In Two Voices: Willis and Rainey,” where spoken word artists Steven Willis and Caleb Rainey talk about their art form, their own personal and artistic growth, and what spoken word means to us right now. Enjoy samples of these pioneers’ work below.

Read on for best bets all week long — and then, check out the full Calendar to learn about even more pivotal intersectional, progressive and LGBTQ-identified events online and throughout Iowa and Illinois:

• Eldridge Skate Center in eastern Iowa offers a rare chance to get out of the house safely, with its open skate today. Wear masks!

• Also later today, Cedar Rapids’ community joins together for an online event anyone can partake of from anywhere. Check out the MLK Jr., Day Celebration, starting at 7 p.m. tonight on Facebook.

Caleb Rainey reads a sample from his second book of poems, Heart Notes.” It’s available on Amazon, along with his first, “Look, Black Boy.”

• If you’re from southwest Iowa, Creighton University offers an online celebration of MLK Day Tuesday morning, based a little closer to home. Explore the Omaha university’s online celebration of “inclusion and fellowship,” starting at 11 a.m. Tuesday on Facebook.

• Stay grounded on Inauguration Day Wednesday with a full day of events, starting at noon with an online talk by Joyce Reede, who specializes in fostering diversity and inclusion. In the evening, top choices include an online dance party, strategizing how to hold the Biden administration accountable for its promises, and Willis and Rainey.

• Thursday, Dr. Joi Lewis from the Minneapolis area kicks off three workshops with her first installment, specifically aimed at white allies. Read more here.

• Learn more about how to fight hunger insecurity statewide through this education session Friday.

• Saturday, kids have their chance to focus in on the lessons of Martin Luther King, Jr., through Youth Summits sponsored by United Action for Youth.

From interviews, to youth summits, to LGBTQ-affirming worship services of different denominations, and more, find connections that work for you on the Calendar, updated weekly. Share your own calendar submissions to

(Special thanks to Corridor Community Action Network for help in populating The Real MainStream’s Calendar.)