Press Release

'Race and Privilege: Exploring MLK's Two Americas' Presented as Part of Uptown Hall Series

Event Date: 
17 January 2016
New York, NY

Co-Hosted by WNYC Hosts Brian Lehrer and Jami Floyd, Event Includes Premiere of New Work by Composer Daniel Bernard Roumain

On Sunday, January 17 at 3pm, for the 10th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day celebration, the Apollo Theater and WNYC will partner for a third year to present “Race and Privilege: Exploring MLK’s Two Americas,” as part of the Apollo’s Uptown Hall series. WNYC’s Peabody Award-winning host Brian Lehrer and Jami Floyd, local host of WNYC’s All Things Considered, will moderate  an open and honest discussion on disparity in America, looking at the persistence of institutional racism but also how individuals can combat racism everyday on multiple fronts.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was masterful at shining a spotlight on institutional racism, but he also spoke vigorously of the need to fight prejudice on all levels – from the political to the personal to within one’s individual soul. Through one-on-one interviews, media presentations and a series of panels with leading voices in journalism, higher education, activism, and social justice spheres – including Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas, Race Forward Executive Director Rinku Sen, and Color of Change Executive Director Rashad Robinson – “Race and Privilege: Exploring MLK’s Two Americas” will identify how individuals, businesses, organizations and legislators can engage in sustained efforts to combat racism and effect social and political change.

Other guests will include:

  • Taylor Branch – Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, author and historian best known for his award-wining trilogy of books chronicling the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement
  • Rokhaya Diallo – French-Senegalese filmmaker, TV personality and cultural activist
  • Eddie Glaude, Jr., Ph.D.  – Author and Chair of Princeton University’s African-American Studies Department
  • Sherrilyn Ifill – President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.
  • Rev. Mike Walrond – Sr. Pastor, First Corinthian Baptist Church in Harlem, New York
  • Sheena Wright – CEO, United Way of Greater NYC

The event will also include a special video interview between Former Attorney General Eric Holder and NPR’s Michele Norris, a collaborative performance of “Blackbird, Fly” by composer Daniel Bernard Roumain (DBR) and spoken-word artist Marc Bamuthi Joseph, and an intimate duet between DBR and internationally renowned Haitian singer Emeline Michel.

“It’s exciting to celebrate our 10th MLK event during a year when conversations about race are becoming more urgent and more elevated,” said Brian Lehrer. “From the increased media coverage of police brutality against people of color to Rachel Dolezal’s co-opting of black identity to soul-searching on the part of corporations and individuals – race is no longer being swept under the rug as easily as it used to be. We’re thrilled to partner once again with the Apollo Theater to celebrate Dr. King’s legacy and its relevance today, and to bring together people of all backgrounds for a constructive dialogue on the ways everyday citizens, politicians, and businesses can make positive change.”

"The Apollo Theater has always been a kind of 'town hall' for Harlem and the New York community, serving as a gathering place during historic moments in African American culture,” said Jonelle Procope, President  & CEO of the Apollo Theater. “Apollo Uptown Hall is an extension of this role, as we continue to provide forums for discourse and open dialogue around issues of importance to our community.  We are so pleased to partner with WNYC for this edition of Uptown Hall, bringing together artists and cultural activists with public intellectuals and community leaders as we celebrate Dr. King’s enduring and inspiring legacy.”

“Race and Privilege: Exploring MLK’s Two Americas” is free and open to the public, but RSVPs are mandatory at: https://www.apollotheater.org/event/uptown-hall/

In addition, for the second year in a row, WNYC will host “Movement: A Celebration Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.” – an evening of music, dance and performance on Thursday, January 14 at 7pm at The Jerome L. Greene Performance Space at WNYC. WQXR’s Terrance McKnight will host the event, which will feature a range of artists exploring the role that movement has in activism including dancers from the Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company, internationally recognized step dance group Soul Steps, classical music collective Harlem Chamber Players and Diversity Youth Theater, who will perform an excerpt from "The Movement," an a cappella musical inspired by the 1963 children's march against segregation in Birmingham, Alabama.

Tickets for “Movement” are available at www.thegreenespace.org

And in celebration of Black History Month, the Apollo’s Open House Weekend (taking place on Saturday, February 6th and Sunday, February 7th) will showcase the theater’s consistent place within the black advocacy movement and the important role of the artist/activist.  The weekend of activities include: film and music presentations celebrating legendary Apollo artists who championed black pride and social justice such as James Brown, Nina Simone, and Bob Marley; performances by the rising stars of today who continue to carry the baton including musicians Chris Rob and Steff Reed, and poet NeNe Ali; and a free screening of Stanley Nelson’s The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution, the first feature-length documentary exploring the Black Panther Party.

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