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Several local groups are holding what’s becoming an annual event to help kids and their families mark Martin Luther King Jr. Day today.

Parties for King will start at 10:30 a.m. and noon, today, at the center court in Northgate Mall in Durham. The event is sponsored by NC MomsRising, Northgate Mall, Lango Kids, Durham Mothers Club, Chapel Hill/ Carrboro Mothers Club and KidCycle.

The event also marks the role Durham played in the Civil Rights struggle, including a sit-in at the Royal Ice Cream Company in June 1957 to protest segregation.

At each party, participants will honor the efforts by sharing stories, learning freedom songs, doing related crafts, and celebrating with an ice cream social and sock hop featuring music from the Civil Rights-era played by a local DJ. There also will be a display of Durham photos from this time period courtesy of the Herald-Sun and displays from the Durham Museum of History.

Organizers will be collecting nonperishable food or toiletry items, such as soap, toothbrushes and diapers, which will help local families in need. If you’re interested in volunteering, call 919-323-6179 or email

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