Polere joins artists at BAM’s annual tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. • Brooklyn Paper

The Brooklyn Academy of Music held their annual tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. Monday morning, and invited lawmakers and activists to mark a morning of songs and performances with promises to continue King’s work two days after what would have been his 92nd birthday.

Brooklyn Borough’s president, Antonio Reynoso, served as the event’s master of ceremonies and guided the audience – who watched in person and via livestream – through a keynote speech by Dr. Imani Perry and musical performances by Nona Hendryx and the gospel choir Sing Harlem.

Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso served as master of ceremonies at the Brooklyn Academy f Music’s annual tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. Photo by Astrid Stawiarz / Getty Images for Brooklyn Academy of Music

“The day he died, my family was sitting at the dinner table holding hands, and we were crying because we knew this was a huge loss,” Governor Kathy Hochul said. “It inspired me to realize that his work must continue, we all must continue his work, even decades later, because the work is not finished, my friends, the work is far from finished.”

More than remembering his words, Hochul said, New Yorkers need to explore how they can help each other – especially through the dark and difficult days of the pandemic.

“Why did more black men and women die of COVID than they should have?” said Hochul. “Why did they not live in an area of ​​quality health care that would have lifted them up from it? Why do they still suffer because they do not have a home at present? Why are they the hardest to find jobs for?”

Racism is a public health crisis, Hochul said, and she has tasked Mary Bassett, the new commissioner for the state health department, with investigating significant differences in health outcomes for black New Yorkers.

Governor Kathy Hochul spoke about the inspiration King provided and her desire to continue her work long after his death. Astrid Stawiarz / Getty Images for Brooklyn Academy of Music

One day after attending a funeral for the victims of the horrific fire in an apartment building in the Bronx, Councilman Crystal Hudson, representing parts of North and Central Brooklyn, used her speech to remember the victims and push for real change. that would have kept the victims and their families safe.

“We were painfully reminded that this is hardly the first time we have gathered in a house of worship to pay tribute to blacks who have wrongfully lost their lives,” Hudson said. “Time and time again we gather. We comfort the weary. “

Most of the residents of Twin Parks North, the site of the January 9 fire, and most of its victims, were Gambians, she said, and had settled in the building after Abdoulie Touray and his family moved in and started it. , which was to become a close-knit community in the apartment complex.

“And as the Imam noted, these 17 victims, ranging in age from two to 50, would not have died if they had not lived in the Bronx, in an apartment building where negligent landlords have consistently provided insufficient heat during the winter months,” Hudson said. said.

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The Gospel Choir Sing Harlem performed at the annual tribute. Astrid Stawiarz / Getty Images for Brooklyn Academy of Music

Within the city, she said, it is necessary and a continuation of King’s work to call for mere housing and hold negligent landlords accountable. Across the country, she called for more – the abolition of filibusters and the adoption of the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act.

“The legacy of Jim Crow and the deep roots of white supremacy have clearly ignored Dr. King’s call for change,” Hudson said. “Our democracy depends on each of us actively participating and holding ourselves accountable for its success. It is imperative that we respond to democracy’s call for help. If we ignore it once again, we may well lose our democracy. “

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Nona Hendryx performs on stage with Craig Harris and the Tailgaters Tales at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s annual tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. Astrid Stawiarz / Getty Images for Brooklyn Academy of Music

BAM commissioned a filmed performance of “King,” a dance set to his speech “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop,” which he held the day before his assassination attempt in 1968. The performance was choreographed and performed by Kyle Marshall, and the performance had its first appearance. premiere in 2018 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of King’s assassination.

The tribute was just part of BAM’s programs to honor and commemorate the historic civil rights activist, accompanied by a digital installation, a series of performances by the Fist & Heel Performance Group and a screening of “Attica”, a 1971 documentary about an uprising against guards. and prisons in the infamous prison.

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