Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial (182809)
Credit: Pixabay

It’s early in the year and it’s the first “that time of the year,” the holiday that we as Americans should be ashamed to celebrate, unless we were highlighting his brilliance in some other field of endeavor. However, that isn’t even close to being the case. It was the year 1619 when we as a people (Black I mean) were settled into the relatively new territory of the land soon to become known as the United States of America that has been for us, as close to Hades as possible. CENTURIES have passed since our conditions have gotten incrementally better and it was the attrition of millions of people that got us to certain advancements. Standing amongst the giants who have been credited with the breakthrough to a somewhat equal measure of humanity has been the man whose birthday that we celebrate on Monday, January 20. The realism of Africans in America since 1619 met a formidable foe in this man and for that we say HAPPY BORNDAY, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

In honor of this day, The Brooklyn Academy of Music will for the 34th year host a series of events in celebration of the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The anchoring event is the 34th annual Brooklyn Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., on Monday, January 20 at 10:30 a.m. in the Howard Gilman Opera House (Peter Jay Sharp Building, 30 Lafayette Ave). The events run from January 17-20 and admission is zilch, nada, FREE. The listings of the events are as follows:

BAMcafé Live, curated by Black Rock Coalition, Friday, January 17 at 9 p.m.

Blak Emoji and Starchild & The New Romantic kick off the weekend. The electro-funk group Blak Emoji is fronted by singer-songwriter Kelsey Warren and joined by musicians Bryan Percivall on bass, Max Tholenaar-Maples on drums, and Sylvana Joyce on keys. The New York City-based outfit is hypnotic and penetrating, navigating electronica and funkadelic soul. They will be joined by Starchild & The New Romantic, a Brooklyn-based artist who has collaborated with the likes of Solange and Dev Hynes.

BAMcafé Live, curated by Black Rock Coalition, Saturday, January 18 at 9 p.m.

The 1865, a blues-punk supergroup whose music is inspired by 1865 America, post Emancipation. The group is composed of musicians Chuck Treece (McRad) on drums, Sacha Jenkins (The White Mandingos), Carolyn “Honeychild” Coleman (Apollo Heights) on lead vocals/baritone guitar, Afro-Brazilian bassist Flora Lucini (Maafa), and drummer Jason “Biz” Lucas (Dragonz of Zynth). The group will be joined by Major Taylor.

Brooklyn Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Monday, January 20 at 10:30 a.m.

The highlight and embodiment of the three-day festivities, which brings together artists and civic leaders to commemorate the life and legacy of Dr. King takes place on Monday, January 20 at 10:30 a.m. with the keynote speaker this year slated to be the award-winning investigative reporter covering racial justice for The New York Times Magazine, Nikole Hannah-Jones. With her unvarnished look at the role of slavery and its legacy on the making of our nation, Hannah-Jones tells us that “without the idealistic, strenuous, and patriotic efforts of Black Americans, our democracy today would most likely look very different—it might not be a democracy at all.” The award-winning journalist created The New York Times Magazine’s “1619 Project,” a multi-media initiative marking the 400th anniversary of the arrival of Black people in Jamestown, Va., the system of slavery that followed, and its enduring legacy in America. The tribute features music performances by Son Little and The Brooklyn Interdenominational Choir. Participating civic leaders to be announced.

Screening of the film “Amazing Grace,” Monday, January 20 at 1 p.m.

Rounding things out is a free screening of the enthralling Aretha Franklin concert film “Amazing Grace,” which takes place on Monday, January 20 at 1 p.m.

Tickets will be distributed on a first-come, first-seated basis starting at 8 a.m. in the BAM Howard Gilman Opera House lobby. For further information, please call BAM Ticket Services at 718-636-4100 or visit

If attending please note, for the 12th consecutive year, BAM has partnered with New York City Housing Authority to offer free art workshops to children living in Brooklyn public housing residences. Students will create original artwork inspired by Dr. King’s dream of freedom and equality. The art exhibition will be on display during the MLK celebration weekend through February 27 and is called “Picture the Dream.”

Over and out. Holla next week. Til then, enjoy the nightlife.