The Apollo hosted an event in commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr. on Sunday. The event was part of the Uptown Hall series- one that focuses on the needs of the Harlem community. The focus here was of course the legacy of the slain civil rights leader, and where we are in American history. Particularly of note, was the focus on New York City and the question of economic justice. With De Blasio now mayor, there are some nascent expectations out there that this administration will mean good things for working and middle class New Yorkers. Co-hosted by Brian Lehrer and Farai Chideya, the two hour event combined commentary from thought leaders, speech clips from MLK Jr, and readings of his work.
The two co-hosts opened with facts of all of the things that took place in 1964. It was a watershed year in American history, one that will be the talk for many scholars this year on the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. On occasions like this, naturally the questions turn to how much progress has been made since. Prof. Peniel Joseph had one of the memorable lines of the afternoon. “The difference between 1964 and 2014 is that in 1964, Black people knew we were oppressed” The crowd was able to participate in the discussion via the hashtag #mlknycdreams, and one of the questions was read to the panelists for their thoughts. With much of the focus on the living wage movement, the anticipation for policy coming forth on interrelated issues like affordable housing and a liveable New York City were undercurrents in much of the conversation.
While the event had a laudable number of guests, it was not limited to the speakers.
There were some great musical performances as well. Guitarist Vernon Reid and the Gospel For Teens Choir (pictured above) impressed the audience, this writer included. The young man who did the solo of Sam Cooke’s Change Gon’ Come broke it down! This was definitely worth attending, and if you missed the conversation, you can catch excerpts on wnyc.org The next major event at The Apollo for the public will be the Open House on Feb. 8th and 9th.