April 4th marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., and there are several NYC special events and museum exhibits honoring his legacy, including his association with New York City.
MLK 50th Anniversary Museum Exhibits
This exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York traces the civil rights leader’s encounters with New York from the 1950s until his assassination in 1968. The exhibition’s historic images chronicle King’s sermons in churches and speeches to the United Nations, his discussions about race relations with New York City’s mayor, and his relationships with New York’s own networks of activists. Together, they reveal a lesser-known side of King’s work and demonstrate the importance of New York City in the national civil rights movement.
- Exhibit open through June 24th. Museum of the City of New York is open daily.
On the surface, Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. were born worlds apart―culturally, geographically, racially, financially, and politically. But by the time they were killed within two months of each other in 1968, their worlds had come together. Images taken by some of the most renowned photojournalists of the era are exhibited alongside original correspondence, publications, and ephemera, illustrating the overlapping trajectory of their lives, exploring their deepening tie as well as how their interests expanded beyond civil rights and organized crime to encompass shared concerns for the poor and opposition to the war in Vietnam. There are nearly 100 photos, documents and other artifacts that uncover the relationship between the two historic figures who changed the United States.
- Exhibit open through May 20th, at the New York Historical Society.
- Rebel Spirits: Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. is based in part on the book The Promise and the Dream by David Margolick, to be published on April 4, 2018 by RosettaBooks and available at the NYHistory Store.
MLK 50th Anniversary Special Events
Thursday, April 5
Conversations in Black Freedom Studies: 50th Anniversary of the Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.
While Dr. King is now widely celebrated, who he was and what he stood for, the long and fierce opposition to his work and the movements and struggles he helped take forward have been airbrushed and distorted. Black resistance intensified with King’s murder as city after city rebelled and wave after wave of Black youth organized resistance to racial tyranny, imperial war, and economic peonage. That protracted struggle was part of what W.E.B. DuBois called “the most magnificent drama in the last thousand years of human history.” Join the discussion of King’s legacy with Mary Francis Berry, Jeanne Theoharis, Thomas Jackson and David Stein.
- FREE at 6:30pm at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, a branch of the NYPL. Registration required to ensure space.
- There is also a FREE special exhibit of archival materials related to Martin Luther King, Jr. that does not require a reservation to see.
Published from 1936 to 1967, Victor Hugo Green’s The Negro Motorist Green Book was a travel guide listing hotels, restaurants, gas stations, and more, that helped black road-trippers avoid the dangers, injustices, and racial violence of segregation during the Jim Crow era in America. It’s not exactly a salute to Martin Luther King, Jr., except that this event is about the very laws and discrimination that MLK campaigned against.
Co-produced by Calvin Alexander Ramsey and Becky Wible Searles (director), the film is inspired by Ramsey’s extensive research and creative projects focused on The Negro Motorist Green Book. Currently in production as a one-hour documentary, the film features over 30 live interviews conducted in six cities, stop-motion media, and animation segments that explore a range of personal experiences connected to this little-known Civil Rights–era story.
The film’s director, Becky Wible Searles, and Maira Liriano, Associate Chief Librarian for the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, will join Ramsey for a post-screening Q&A. This program is presented in conjunction with the closing week of Unpacking the Green Book: Travel and Segregation in Jim Crow America, a companion exhibition to Derrick Adams: Sanctuary.
- 6:30pm, at the Museum of Arts and Design in Columbus Circle. Tickets are $10.
- The exhibition Unpacking the Green Book closes on April 8.
Tuesday, April 10
Reverend Dr. Calvin Butts of Abyssinian Baptist Church and SUNY Old Westbury and Reverend Dr. Johnny Ray Youngblood of Mt. Pisgah Baptist Church discuss the continuing role of New York’s African American churches in advancing civil rights and social activism with Carol Jenkins, host of Black America on CUNY TV. Before and after the conversation singer, Imani Uzuri, will perform. Reception to follow. This is a ticketed event. Tickets are $30
- 6:30pm, at the Museum of the City of New York.
Image of Martin Luther King, Jr. courtesy Libray of Congress via Wikipedia