ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The 22nd Annual Capital District MLK Holiday Labor and Community Celebration was held online this year for the first time. However, the new challenge couldn’t stop the Sanctuary for Independent Media and the event committee from broadcasting their message of change.
Deacon Jerry Ford, one of the event’s hosts and the Founder of Team HERO, said canceling wasn’t an option.
“Even though we’re up against the pandemic, even though we’re up against racial justice, even though we’ve got a crazy political climate. We don’t as people of color—Black people—we don’t have the option of saying that we’re going to take it off, or we’re going to maybe sit this one out,” said Ford.
In addition to the challenge of going virtual, the event also hoped to tackle alleged confusion around Dr. King’s memory. Ford said people must look at more than just his most famous speech. Although there is no denying the importance of King’s “I have a dream,” the event’s speakers drove home that the icon is much more than that.
“Dr. King has been frozen in history. Oh, they love to talk about “I have a dream” in 1963,” Charles Barron, Assembly Member 60th District. “But by 1968, Dr. King had evolved.”
Barron stated in his opening speech that Dr. King is often misremembered, and if people want to honor him, they must harken back the “Radical King” as well.
“He started to realize in order to attack certain issues that has be some kind of radicalization, there has be a bigger movement,” said Ford.
Ford, Barron, and the other event participants hope to be a part of that “bigger movement” by providing opportunities for change through discussion, education, and action. The event had traditional speeches and artistic performances, but it also had something unexpected—”Break Out” discussions on ten different topics.
- Systemic Racism
- Environmental Justice
- Economic Justice
- Health Justice
- Urban Grief
- Justice Reform
After those discussions, group leaders reported to attendees what improvements had been made in the last year on that issue and what “action steps” they hope to oovercome before the next Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
“It’s important that we continue to have these conversations, and we continue to educate,” said Shana Davis, Break Out facilitator and President of the Capital Region Chapter of Coalition of Black Trade Unionists.
“If one person walks away learning something that they didn’t know before? That’s one more person who understands that; wow, I didn’t see it that way.”