America’s only revered King — Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. — and the only non-president American citizen to be granted a national holiday will be commemorated throughout the nation with music, dance, art, film, poetry, panel discussions and on the west coast, a parade in Los Angeles, California.
“50 Years After MLK: A Dream Deferred” aptly describes an oral presentation and celebration slated to be held at Harlem’s Apollo Theater commemorating the storied life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who was born on Jan. 15.
On the eve of the 1929 anniversary, a free, public two-hour event begins at 3 pm and will explore the progress that has been made in the half-century since Dr. King’s untimely death 50 years ago.
Through a lively mix of one-on-one interviews and panel discussions featuring notable guests — including author and award-winning former television host Tavis Smiley, civil rights leader and former attorney and advisor to Dr. King, Dr. Clarence Jones, and today’s prominent female activists — Linda Sarsour, Women’s March co-founder; Patrisse Cullors, Black Lives Matter co-founder; Rosa Clemente, scholar and 2008 Green Party Vice Presidential candidate. The topic will spotlight the past and future for the people Dr. King described to be disfranchised and exploited.
Panelists will discuss the evolution and persistence of issues he fought to eliminate — from racial and wage inequality to housing discrimination to police brutality — and will broach the question of what Dr. King’s vision and leadership mean in this time of moral and ethical ambiguity.
WNYC’s Peabody Award-winning host Brian Lehrer and local “All Things Considered” host Jami Floyd will moderate meaningful conversations examining Dr. King’s legacy and its impact on modern social justice movements.
“Fifty years after Dr. King’s assassination, I can think of no better place than Harlem and the Apollo to reflect on his work and mission,” Jami Floyd said. “Issues of race, justice and the need for unity are front and center again, in our country. My hope is that our conversation will open the door to reconciliation, as we embark on the next 50 years — together.”
“We’re thrilled to partner once again with the Apollo Theater to celebrate Dr. King’s life and relevance in such an important anniversary year and at such a crucial moment for our country,” Brian Lehrer said. “It’s a great opportunity to bring the important conversations we convene on air into the community in person.”
Others slated for discussions include:Taylor Branch, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and MLK biographer, Jeanne Theoharis, scholar and professor of political science at Brooklyn College, Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, activist and spiritual leader of Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, Pandit Dasa — author, Mindful Leadership and Wellbeing expert, and former practicing monk , Imam Khalid Latif — executive director and Chaplain at NYU’s Islamic Center, Chaplain with the NYPD, Minister Kristen John Foy, president of the Brooklyn Chapter of the National Action Network
The event will conclude with a rousing performance by the two-time Emmy Award-winning ensemble Vy Higginsen’s Gospel For Teens — a renowned group of teenagers who study and sing the art of gospel music in Harlem.
WQXR’s Terrance McKnight will serve as master of ceremonies.
The following day, Brooklyn Academy of Music continues the tradition of hosting New York’s largest public celebration for the Civil Rights leader who was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee as he bravely prepared to face-off with racist, southerners determined to suppress Black Americans.
For the 32nd year, a full day of free events — a movie screening, a talk, and an art exhibition along with the hallmark morning event with politicians and elected officials will highlight the high-profile annual attended by Mayor Bill de Blasio and his wife Chirlayne, along with Eric Addams, Brooklyn’s Borough President and a long list of cultural performers.
Slated for the BAM Howard Gilman Opera House (Peter Jay Sharp Building, 30 Lafayette Ave.) to honor the legacy and share the dream of Dr. King, it has been a BAM tradition since 1990.
BAMcafé Live features a weekend of music programming inspired by Dr. King’s vision of social activism and equality. Past acts have included a salute to Curtis Mayfield, political hip-hop crew Blitz the Ambassador, and new-jazz vocalist Chandra Rule.
“The fact that this event continues to draw the biggest crowd in New York City on Martin Luther King Day year after year shows his enduring significance in our society,” Katy Clark, BAM president said. “His messages are a comfort in times of sorrow, a rallying cry in times of turmoil, and a testament to our ability to lift each other up when we set our minds to it.”
The tribute features music performances by Martha Redbone and The Brooklyn Interdenominational Choir.
Free tickets will be distributed on a first-come, first-seated basis starting at 8 am.
Jelani Cobb is the keynote speaker, this year. He is New Yorker staff writer and Columbia University School of Journalism professor. The author of “Substance of Hope: Barack Obama” and the “Paradox of Progress.’’ Cobb is known for his clear elucidation on the complexity of race in American society.
Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams will serve as master of ceremonies.
A complementary program and part of the BAM and Greenlight Bookstore’s Unbound book launch series is the reading and discussion of When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir, co-written by Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors and author/journalist Asha Bandele.
The day-of events also include a film screening and the annual community art exhibition, “Picture the Dream,” featuring works by students from the Atlantic Terminal Community Center. Two BAMcafé Live performances by Angela Johnson are scheduled on Jan 12 & 13.
Art exhibition in Diker Gallery (30 Lafayette Ave., Lepercq Space) runs from Jan 13 – Feb 9.
For the 10th year in a row, BAM partners with NYCHA to offer free art workshops to children living in Brooklyn public housing residences. This year, students from the Atlantic Terminal Community Center, under the guidance of teaching artist Che Baraka, create original artwork inspired by Dr. King’s dream of freedom and equality. All events are free. For further information, please call BAM Ticket Services at 718.636.4100 or visit BAM.org
In Los Angeles, California, the 33rd annual Kingdom Day Parade kicks off on Jan. 15 to honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
California U.S. Senator Kamala D. Harris is the Grand Marshal for the 2018 annual parade. She is the first African-American and first woman to serve as California’s attorney general. The parade has grown from its humble beginnings into the largest and longest MLK birthday celebration in America.
The two and a half mile parade route begins at 10 am and ABC-7 will again broadcast the entire two-hour event.
Several hundred thousand spectators are expected to line the route which has remained true to its roots, still winding through the same inner-city streets it first began on in south central. Some of the spectators reserve sidewalk space with sleeping bags, coming out as early as the night before in what has become a unique Los Angeles tradition.
Last year Congresswoman Maxine Waters served as the grand marshal.
Past officials include: Stevie Wonder, The Godfather of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. birthday holiday national recognition, Gov. Jerry Brown, Little Richard, Debbie Allen and other distinguished Californians.
Back on the east coast, the National Action Network will present a 2018 King Day tribute in Washington D.C., New Jersey and New York City. Al Sharpton, the organization’s founders said a breakfast in Washington, DC will kick off the Jan. 15 celebrations from 8:30 am to 10:30 am at the Mayflower Renaissance Hotel, 1127 Connecticut Ave.
Later in the afternoon, the King Public Policy Forum will take place in Harlem at 1 pm at the 106 West 145th St. headquarters.
In Newark, New Jersey, the incoming governor Phil Murphy will join U.S. Senator Cory Booker and Rev. David Jefferson, pastor of Metropolitan Baptist Church and NAN board members at 3 pm for a program heralding the King.
This year, 2018 would have been Dr. King’s 89th birthday and is also the 50th anniversary of his untimely death. Although he did not reach the age of 40, his legacy will live forever. This years’ theme for the Kingdom Parade in California borrows from First Lady Michelle Obama who said: “When They Go Low, We Go High.”
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