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Coming up on Connections: Monday, January 17, 2022

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Nazareth College
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

First hour: Special programming – “MLK – Activism and the Arts”

Second hour: Special programming – “King’s Last March”

We bring you special programming on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

First, WNYC and The Apollo present WNYC’s 16th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day celebration, “MLK – Activism and the Arts.” This year’s discussion will focus on how Dr. King leveraged the influence of artists in the civil rights movement and how that legacy of activism in the arts continues today. Focusing on the long-standing connection between activism and artistry, participants will discuss how the struggle for social justice affected icons from Nina Simone to John Legend and how they, in turn, helped drive the struggle for social justice. The discussion is co-led by a roster of WNYC and WQXR hosts: Melissa Harris-Perry, host of WNYC Studios and PRX’s “The Takeaway”; WQXR host and author Terrance McKnight; Jami Floyd of WNYC’s Race and Justice Unit; Brian Lehrer, host of WNYC’s “Brian Lehrer Show”; Alison Stewarthost of WNYC’s “All of It”; and Kai Wright, host of “The United States of Anxiety”. Participants include:

  • Reverend Al Sharpton, host of MSNBC’s “Politics,” and president of National Action Network
  • The Honorable Andrew Young, former mayor of Atlanta, the first Black UN Ambassador, member of the U.S. House of Representatives, and activist during the 1960’s civil rights movement
  • Trezana Beverly, the first African American actress to receive a Tony Award for “Best Featured Actress in a Play”
  • Najee Dorsey, founder of Black Art in America (BAIA), and visual artists
  • Jacqueline Woodson, American author and 2020 MacArthur Fellow
  • Jonathan McCrory, director of the National Black Theatre of Harlem
  • Garrett McQueen, advocate for diversity in classical music
  • Rashad Robinson, president of Color of Change
  • Damion Thomas, curator of the Museum of Sports for the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture

Then in our second hour, it’s “Kings Last March.” Although it was one of the most challenging and controversial chapters of his career, the final year of King's life has not been the focus of significant public attention. This dramatic and illuminating documentary uses a rich mix of archival tape, oral histories and contemporary interviews to paint a vivid picture of what may have been the most difficult year of Dr. King's life. On April 4, 1967 Martin Luther King, Jr. gave a landmark speech from the pulpit of Riverside Church in New York. He called for an end to the Vietnam War. Exactly one year later, King was assassinated in Memphis. He was 39 years old. King’s speech in New York set the tone for the last year of his life. Inside the church, he was hailed for his brave, outspoken stance against the war. Outside the church, he was roundly condemned – by the mainstream press, by other civil rights activists and, most decidedly, by President Lyndon Johnson. For many, the image of King is of a social and political leader at the height of his powers – especially the period up through 1965. But that's not the way he was viewed in the last year of his life. This program illuminates the profound personal, psychological and philosophical challenges King faced in his last year. In this time, King tried to gain support for his Poor People’s Campaign, fended off fierce critics inside and outside the civil rights movement, and endured an increasing sense of despair and isolation. “King's Last March” offers listeners a complex view of a man trying to push his philosophy of non-violence to a conclusion many people found more threatening than the dream he described on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial five years before his death.

Megan Mack is the executive producer of "Connections with Evan Dawson" and live/televised engagement programming.