How US museums are celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day, coast to coast


Museums across the US have held special virtual events (with some in-person exceptions) commemorating Martin Luther King Jr. Day as cases of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 continue to rise across the country , causing the cancellation of many celebrations. Here is how six cultural institutions mark the federal holiday.

the Brooklyn Museum in New York will hold two professional development workshops intended for artistic educators but also accessible to the general public. A morning workshop will examine the works in the museum’s group exhibition The wake: reflection, resilience and resistance in the art of our time (until April 10) – a show centered on black artists that explores the effects of the pandemic, nationwide civil unrest and climate change. In another workshop, artist Baseera Khan will discuss the political critique that permeates her exhibition I am an archive (until July 10) and how art can be a vehicle for change.

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC, will broadcast a presentation by “living history” scholar John W. McCaskill who traces the last five years of Dr. King Jr.’s life, and will share the stories of other personalities who played an important role in the fight to end racial segregation in the United States. The museum also published a blog post explaining how January 17 became a federal holiday.

the Rothko Chapel in Houston, Texas, organized a performance and panel over the weekend (now available online for free) focused on the relationship between music and the civil rights movement. The event is part of the institution songs for justice series, an initiative comprising concerts and conversations that explores how music can advance dialogue around social justice. It features a performance by the Community Music Center of Houston Scott Joplin Chamber Orchestra and a discussion with Shana Redmond – an expert on music, race and politics – about the intersection of music and activism in the United States. United.

the New Orleans Art Museum in Louisiana will honor the federal holiday by offering free entry on MLK Day and distributing free take-out activities related to racial equity and the civil rights movement.

the California African American Museum in Los Angeles will hold a community reading and panel discuss Dr. King Jr.’s landmark speech in 1967 A Christmas Sermon on Peace, which he delivered at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, just four months before he was killed by a white supremacist. The event will be followed by a musical performance by the Inner City Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles with original music, classic spirituals and a staging of the anthem Lift up every voice and sing, a 1900s song that commemorated U.S. President Abraham Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation.

And the Detroit Institute of the Arts in Michigan, one of the few institutions to offer an in-person event, will host a free screening Oscar-nominated documentary King: a record film… from Montgomery to Memphis, which follows Dr. King Jr. from the Montgomery bus boycott of 1955-56 until his assassination in 1968. The film, directed by Sidney Lumet and Joseph L. Mankiewicz, was rarely seen after its 1970 release but received renewed attention when it was selected for preservation by the National Film Registry at the Library of Congress in 1999. The groundbreaking film features rare footage of celebrity speeches, protests, arrests and comments supporters of the civil rights movement.

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