Selma and Birmingham are just cities now -- their names don't reverberate with kids the way they do with adults, who remember what happened in the civil rights clashes of 30 and 40 years ago. So when local youngsters celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and King's commitment to justice through nonviolent means, with a candlelight gathering, they'll be joined by oldsters who can put their contributions in a historical framework. Several generations of speakers and performers, including singers Tamu and Ryan Houston (Whitney's 12-year-old cousin), will do their thing at the gathering, themed "Bridging the Generation Gap: From MLK to MTV" (5 p.m. Friday at Yerba Buena Gardens, Third Street & Mission, S.F., 771-6300; free, BYO candles).
The next night, at the MLK celebration "4 Brothers Coast to Coast to Coast," Midnight Voices co-founder Will Power puts a hip-hop beat to his spoken-word remembrances about growing up in the Fillmore ("Grandma had them feet/ Them Jesus jumping! feet"). Organized by Power and the newly formed United Artists of Color Network, the evening also features local dancer/choreographer Robert Henry Johnson (creator of a Kwanzaa-inspired Nutcracker, The Nutmeg Project), plus spoken-word artists T'Kalla, of the Vibe Chameleons, and Trinidad-born Englishman Roger Robinson, of the now-defunct Urban Poets Society. Local 1200 provides music (8 p.m. Saturday at La Pena Cultural Center, 3105 Shattuck, Berkeley, (510) 849-2568; $10 / 8 p.m. Sunday at ODC Theater, 3153 17th St., S.F., 863-9834; $10).
On Monday, the official MLK holiday, participants in the Freedom Train Ride & March will ride the rails into San Francisco and begin marching at 10 a.m. from the Caltrain station at Fourth Street and Townsend, heading down Third Street and up Market to the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium at Larkin and Grove. Historian/author Clayborne Carson and the Rev. Frederick Haynes are among the speakers scheduled for a rally there beginning at 12:30 p.m. Admission is free; call 771-6300. And later that night, teenage poets and spoken-word artists talk about color, justice, history, and other topical concerns at "Bringing the Noise for Dr. MLK Jr." DJs, dancers, a screening of the forthcoming documentary Poetic License, and speeches from King himself are also part of the event, which begins at 7 p.m. Monday at ODC Theater, 3153 17th St. (at Shotwell), S.F. Admission is $1-10; call 661-6927. For more MLK events, see our Calendar listings on Page 32.