MLK: AN APOLLO CELEBRATION

This Sunday, Harlem’s historic Apollo Theater is ringing in Black History Month with their annual celebration. We have a preview.

Aired on January 16, 2019.

TRANSCRIPT

MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR., ROSA PARKS, MALCOLM X, ALL OF COURSE HOUSEHOLD NAMES KNOWN AND RESPECTED AROUND THE WORLD FOR THEIR HEROIC CONTRIBUTIONS TO THIS COUNTRY'S CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT.

BUT THEY WERE NOT THE ONLY ONES WHO PUT THEIR LIVES ON THE LINE IN THE STRUGGLE FOR RACIAL JUSTICE DURING THE 1960s.

THERE WERE MANY OTHER LARGELY UNKNOWN MEN AND WOMEN WHO RISKED EVERYTHING TO MAKE THE PROMISE OF THIS NATION A REALITY.

TO COMMEMORATE THOSE PIVOTAL UNSUNG HEROES, W NYC AND THE APOLLO THEATER ARE TEAMING UP FOR W NYC'S THIRD ANNUAL DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING DAY CELEBRATION TITLED APPROPRIATELY ENOUGH, UNSUNG CHAMPIONS OF CIVIL RIGHTS FROM MLK TO TODAY.

JOINING US NOW WITH A PREVIEW OF THE CELEBRATION IS ONE OF THE HOSTS OF THE EVENT, WYC'S BRIAN LEER AND PAULA GREER.

WELCOME BOTH OF YOU.

A PLEASURE TO HAVE YOU HERE.

LET ME START WITH YOU.

WHO ARE SOME OF THE UNSUNG HEROES THAT YOU'RE GOING TO BE COMMEMORATING IN THIS EVENT?

FIRST I'LL SAY THAT WE'RE GOING TO HAVE SOME GREAT GUESTS TO TALK ABOUT SOME OF THE --

I WANT TO ASK YOU ABOUT THAT IN A SECOND.

MEIKO HOST JAMIE FLOYD AND I, HISTORIANS JANET LLOYD BELL WRITE ABOUT THE PEOPLE WHO ARE NOT THE FAMOUS SORT OF CHARISMATIC LEADERS, BUT THERE WAS A LOT OF GRASSROOTS ACT ADVISE MANY THAT WAS TOWN BY TOWN, CITY BY CITY AROUND THE SOUTH, NOT JUST THE NATIONAL MOVEMENT.

WALL DEN HARRIS WRITES A LOT ABOUT THAT.

AND PEOPLE LIKE ELLA BAKER, BYRON.

ELLA BAKER IS AN EXAMPLE.

SHE WAS BORN AROUND THE TURN OF THE 20th CENTURY SO SHE PRECEDED KING.

SHE WORKED WITH W.E.B. Du BOIS.

SHE WAS VERY DETERMINED TO MAKE SURE IT WAS NOT JUST NATIONAL FAMOUS MEN WHO WERE GETTING RECOGNIZED FOR THE WORK, BUT PEOPLE ON THE GROUND IN COMMUNITIES ALL OVER THE COUNTRY.

AND BYRON RUSSOM IS MACHINE YOU'RE GOING TO BE COMMEMORATING.

I WAS TELLING YOU I SAW HIM ON 54th AND BROADWAY.

HE'S A TALL HANDSOME MAN WITH FREDERICK DOUGLAS HAIR.

TALK A LITTLE ABOUT HIM AND HIS ROLE.

AND ALSO SOMEBODY WHO PRECEDED KING.

HE WAS ORGANIZING A BIG MARCH ON WASHINGTON IN THE 1940s FOR CIVIL RIGHTS.

AND THEN HE BECAME ONE OF THE LEAD ORGANIZERS OF THE FAMOUS 1963 MARCH ON WASHINGTON THAT WE ASSOCIATE WITH DR. KING.

SO HE'S RELATIVELY UNSUNG.

CERTAINLY PEOPLE IN THE MOVEMENT KNEW HIM REALLY WELL.

BUT HE DIDN'T BECOME AN ICON OF HISTORY IN THE SAME WAY.

HE WAS ALSO GAY.

RIGHT.

THAT'S WHY HE TOOK A BACK SEAT IN MANY RESPECTS BECAUSE AT THAT TIME IT WAS A PROBLEM, RIGHT?

RIGHT.

AND LAURA, YOU TOLD ME AS WE WERE PREPARING FOR THIS THAT SOME OF THESE PEOPLE -- AND THIS IS PART OF THE REASON FOR THIS CELEBRATION, SOME OF THESE PEOPLE YOU WERE LEARNING ABOUT MORE --

ABSOLUTELY, ABSOLUTELY.

I THINK THE OTHER PERSON THAT WE ARE GOING TO FOCUS ON IS FRED HAMPTON.

HAMPTON.

'BLACK PANTHER.'

YES, HE'S BLACK FAN THEY ARE.

I DON'T KNOW A LOT ABOUT MR. HAMPTON.

SO I THINK WHAT IS GREAT ABOUT THIS EVENT FOR SO MANY OF US IS TO LEARN MORE AND MORE ABOUT THE PEOPLE WHO ARE REALLY SO INSTRUMENTAL IN THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT.

AND AS WE SAID, UNSUNG HEROES.

THAT WAS SUCH AN IMPORTANT PART OF WHEN WE WERE PUTTING THIS PROGRAM TOGETHER TO THINK ABOUT, IDENTIFYING WHO THOSE FOLKS ARE.

I THINK THAT IS ONE OF THE HIGHLIGHTS OF THIS EVENT AT THE APOLLO, IS THAT YOU REALLY HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY TO TAKE A DEEPER DIVE ON --

ARE YOU GOING TO TALK ABOUT -- I THINK FROM THE TITLE I CAN ONLY GUESS THAT ARE WORKING NOW IN THE MOVEMENT?

WE ARE.

AND I DON'T HAVE PARTICULAR NAMES ALONG THOSE LINES.

BUT EVERY YEAR IN DR. KING'S CELEBRATION, WE TALK ABOUT SOME HISTORY AND WE RELATE IT TO WHAT'S GOING ON TODAY.

SO THERE DEFINITELY WILL BE PEOPLE WORKING TODAY AND WE'LL BE TALKING ABOUT PEOPLE WORKING TODAY.

SO, LAURA, BRIAN KIND OF TOUCHED ON THIS THE WAY THAT YOU WERE GOING TO COMMEMORATE THESE UNSUNG HEROES.

ELABORATE ON THAT.

WE LOOKED AT ONE OF THE AREAS WE WANTED TO FOCUS ON.

OBVIOUSLY UNSUNG HEROES FOR THIS PARTICULAR PROGRAM, AND THEN WE REALLY START TO PUT SOME OTHER PIECES WITH THE PROGRAM, SO WE LOOK AT THE MUSIC ELEMENTS PARTICULARLY BECAUSE IT'S AT THE APOLLO.

AND THIS YEAR WE'LL HAVE RUTHA HARRIS, SHE'S IN HER 80s AND SHE WAS ONE OF THE FREEDOM SINGERS, SO THERE WILL BE A WHOLE SERIES OF SONGS THAT SHE'LL BE ABLE TO PROVIDE AND SING FOR US.

I THINK THAT WE'LL BE JOINING HER ON A LOT OF THOSE SONGS, LIKE -- WHAT IS IT -- I FORGOT THE NAME -- MY LITTLE LIGHT --

THIS LITTLE LIGHT OF MINE?

THANK YOU.

THIS LITTLE LIGHT OF MINE IS ONE OF THOSE KEY SONGS.

AND THEN WE WILL ALSO HAVE, WE'LL HAVE SOME OTHER YOUNG POETS THAT WILL BE PERFORMING.

WE WORK WITH URBAN WORD, IT'S AN ORGANIZATION HERE IN NEW YORK THAT HAS AMAZING POETS THAT WILL CREATE SOME NEW WORK FOR US, AND ALSO IT WILL BE ACCOMPANIED BY SOME NEW MUSIC.

AND THEN I THINK ONE OF THE HIGHLIGHTS -- WE DIDN'T TALK ABOUT THE FAITH PART, WHICH IS BISHOP MICHAEL CURRY WHO IS BISHOP MICHAEL CURRY, MOST FOLKS WILL KNOW HIM, HE WAS THE PERSON THAT WAS PART OF THE WEDDING CEREMONY OF PRINCE HARRY AND, AND --

THE ROYAL WEDDING.

THE ROYAL WEDDING, YES.

IT'S SO EXCITING THAT BISHOP CURRY IS --

I'M VERY THRILLED ABOUT THAT.

YOU HAVE A VERY INTERESTING PHOTO EXHIBIT AS WELL, RIGHT?

THERE WILL ALSO BE A PHOTO EXHIBITION BY CHESTER HIGGINS.

HE IS DEFINITELY A NEW YORK ICON WITH 'THE NEW YORK TIMES.'

THERE WILL BE AN EXHIBITION OF HIS PHOTOS THAT WILL BE SCREENED.

AND THOSE ARE PHOTOS THAT ARE PART OF THE BIRMINGHAM CIVIL RIGHTS MUSEUM.

THERE ARE LOTS OF ELEMENT S TO THIS PROGRAM.

SO, YOU HAVE BEEN DOING THIS FOR 13 YEARS, BUT YOU HAVE BEEN PARTNERING WITH THE A POLO THE LAST SIX.

HOW DID THAT PARTNERSHIP COME TOGETHER.

WE WERE AT A SMALLER VENUE IN AN EARLIER PART OF THE RUN.

WE WERE FILLING IT UP EVERY TIME, AND THERE WAS A LOT OF DEMAND, AND PEOPLE AT THE STATION, AND PEOPLE AT THE APOLLO -- MAYBE YOU KNOW THIS BETTER FROM YOUR END ABOUT WHO ACTUALLY INITIATED IT, BUT THIS IS THE PLACE TO BE.

RIGHT.

THIS IS GOING TO BE AN EVENT LIKE THIS, IT HAS TO BE AT THE APOLLO, RIGHT?

YES.

IT'S TERRIFIC.

I THINK FOR THE APOLLO, YOUR STORY IS RIPE.

SO THERE WAS JUST THAT CONNECTION OF THIS WAS A PERFECT EVENT TO HAPPEN AT THE APOLLO.

IT IS FOR US UNDER OUR BANNER WHICH WE CALL UPTOWN HALL.

AND WE HAVE THIS PROGRAM THAT WE HAVE BEEN DOING AT THE APOLLO, AND THIS IS ONE OF THE EVENTS OF OUR UPTOWN HALL.

IT REALLY LOOKS AT THE APOLLO AS THIS GATHERING PLACE TO NOT ONLY TO HAVE GREAT MUSIC, BUT ALSO TO HAVE REALLY INTERESTING DIALOGUE AND DISCOURSE ABOUT IMPORTANT SOCIAL ISSUES OF OUR DAY.

I HAVE TO SAY TO BRAG A LITTLE BIT, I'VE BEEN AT THE APOLLO, INVOLVED WITH THOSE DISCUSSIONS OVER THE YEARS.

IT'S A DIVERSE ROOM YEAR AFTER YEAR.

IF ONE OF THE UNFORTUNATE THINGS ABOUT SOCIETY TODAY IS THAT WE'RE ALL STILL SO SEGREGATED, EITHER BY STRUCTURES AND SYSTEMS, OR THAT WE SELF-SEGREGATE INTO DIFFERENT KINDS OF EVENTS AND THINGS LIKE THAT.

IT'S ALWAYS A VERY DIVERSE ROOM.

AND TO HAVE PEOPLE MINGLING AND TALKING TO EACH OTHER IN THE HALLS AND EVERYTHING LIKE THAT --

IT'S WONDERFUL.

IT'S A WONDERFUL THING.

IN 10 SECONDS, THE EVENT IS OPEN TO EVERYONE?

THE EVENT IS OPEN TO EVERYONE.

IT'S FREE.

PEOPLE CAN GO TO OUR WEBSITE, APOLLO THEATER.ORG, FOR MORE INFORMATION ON HOW TO RECEIVE TICKETS.

ALL RIGHT.

BOTH OF YOU, THANK YOU SO MUCH.

SO WONDERFUL TO TALK TO YOU.

THANK YOU.

THANK YOU, RAFAEL.

AND IF YOU'D LIKE TO ATTEND THE MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. DAY CELEBRATION AT THE APOLLO ON JANUARY 20th, YOU CAN VISIT OUR WEBSITE, METROFOCUS.ORG FOR DETAILS.

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

WNET

© WNET All Rights Reserved.

825 Eighth Avenue

New York, NY 10019