MLK: AN APOLLO CELEBRATION

January 17, 2019 at 4:45 am

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.

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>> 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.

Mutual of America PSEG

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.

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