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BAM to host annual tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

January 17, 2020 Meaghan McGoldrick

The Brooklyn Academy of Music will honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday at its 34th annual tribute to the historic civil rights activist.

A BAM tradition since 1990, the celebration is New York City’s largest public tribute to King’s life and vision, according to the Brooklyn institution.

BAM President Katy Clark told the Brooklyn Eagle that King’s mark on the world is especially relevant today. “Many of the sources of uncertainty and instability that we feel as a nation were addressed by Dr. King. His legacy continually inspires our own work at BAM toward anti-oppression,” she said.

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As does the work of the event’s keynote speaker, Nikole Hannah-Jones, Clark said.

Hannah-Jones, an award-winning investigative reporter covering racial justice for The New York Times Magazine, spearheaded “The 1619 Project,” the outlet’s landmark initiative that marked the 400th anniversary of American slavery and examined the role of slavery and its legacy on the making of America.

Nikole Hannah-Jones will be the keynote speaker. Photo: Courtesy of Nikole Hannah-Jones

Hannah-Jones “marries her broad analysis of structural racism and civil rights with an advocacy for public education — not to mention a strong commitment to Brooklyn,” Clark told the Eagle.

Borough President Eric Adams will serve as the event’s master of ceremonies.

“We honor Martin Luther King, Jr. and his legacy each year at BAM because there is still so much to learn from his moral teachings and his philosophy of non-violent resistance,” said Adams, whose office co-hosts the annual affair alongside BAM and Medgar Evers College.


“Dr. King knew that it takes all of us, joining together in a shared spirit of unity, to bend the arc of the moral universe toward justice,” Adams told the Eagle. “We still have a long way to go here in New York City and across the country toward realizing his dream, and this occasion gives us an opportunity to reflect on our triumphs and setbacks.”

BAM’s tribute to King is free and open to the public. The full day of free events will kick off at 10:30 a.m. in the Peter Jay Sharp Building (30 Lafayette Ave.) and feature music performances by Son Little and the Brooklyn Interdenominational Choir. The celebration will also include a screening of Amazing Grace, a film about Aretha Franklin, and an art exhibition called Picture the Dream, which is on view at BAM through Feb. 27.

Similar musical performances will take place throughout the weekend in conjunction with the event. Leading up to Monday’s tribute, BAMcafé Live will feature music programming inspired by 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.

This year’s lineup includes Blak Emoji with Starchild & The New Romantic on Friday night, and The 1865 with Major Taylor on Saturday night.

More information is available on BAM’s website.


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