California African American Museum MLK Day Celebrations

Written by on January 12, 2021

On January 18, Celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day immersed in music, culture, and community. This year’s virtual festival highlights MLK’s dedication to labor and workers’ rights, and these movements’ continued importance today. Enjoy these vibrant programs and activities for all ages.

10:00 am
Musical Welcome from ICYOLA
Kick off CAAM’s MLK Day Celebration with members of the Inner City Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles (ICYOLA), the largest majority Black orchestra in America.

11:00 am
King Study Group
Join the King Study Group to engage with King’s speech in support of Memphis Sanitation Workers. Delivered the day before he was assassinated in 1968, this speech is commonly known by the theme in its concluding paragraph: “I’ve been to the mountaintop.” The speech is most remembered for that chilling phrase, which foreshadowed his untimely death, but King’s true message was about economic power, workers’ rights, and the strengthening of Black institutions.

1:00 pm
Black Workers and Social Justice: From Memphis, 1968, to Today
The labor movement was—and remains—essential to the struggle for racial equity and civil rights. King’s final campaign was undertaken to support striking sanitation workers in Memphis, Tennessee. Hear a distinguished panel discuss the struggle in Memphis, the right to strike, and Black labor’s role in the California economy and in today’s movement for social change. Panelists include Janel Bailey, Co-Executive Director of Organizing and Programs at the Los Angeles Black Worker Center; Steven Pitts, Associate Director emeritus of UC Berkeley Labor Center and host of the podcast, Black Work Talk; and sanitation worker Rodney Fowler Sr., Vice President District 5, American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees District Council 36, and President, Local 127, San Diego. The panel will be moderated by CAAM’s History Curator, Susan D. Anderson.

2:30 pm
Family Story Time and Poetry Workshop
Close out the holiday with this family program celebrating MLK. Author Alice Faye Duncan will read excerpts from her children’s book, Memphis, Martin, and the Mountaintop: The Sanitation Strike of 1968, followed by a haiku writing workshop.

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