Dreams for NYC Inspired by MLK

Monday, January 20, 2014

Brian shares excerpts from Sunday's Martin Luther King, Jr. Day event at the Apollo Theater, "Dreams for NYC Inspired by MLK" reflecting on the immediate future of New York City through the lens of Dr. King’s moral compass. The event was co-hosted by multimedia journalist and author Farai Chideya, in front of an audience of 1500.

Panelists Include:


Farai Chideya, Gadadhara Pandit Dasa, Nelson George, Peter Heltzel, Hakeem Jeffries, Dr Khalil Gibran Muhammad, Pedro Noguera, Rev. Paul Raushenbush, Donna Schaper, Melinda Weekes-Laidlow, Jan Willis and Brett Ian Wright

Comments [17]


@Ann from Westchester

I apologize if you took my comment as nasty. I just get frustrated listening to the same tired and ineffectual ideas being discussed to improve the lives of people that are struggling. The truth sometimes hurts but once you acknowledge it you can work to correct the problems.

I admit that I could do more to help society, but for right now I have to focus on growing a new private business so I can employee a bunch of people and continue supporting our highly efficient government.

Jan. 20 2014 04:06 PM
Ann from Westchester

Scott, Your comments sound just plain nasty.
I agree that this presentation was short on specifics. In fact, I made a comment (the first one below) to that effect. But it is not helpful of you to suggest that people were there to talk about "how to continue the downward spiral of non-gentrified communities." That is just plain wrong. People participated in this event because they want to improve the quality of life for those at the bottom of the ladder. Actually, in contrast to your claim, there was considerable talk about personal responsibility--- a personal responsibility to commit to working for a better world. I did not hear anyone "blaming others for bad decisions like getting pregnant at 15, dropping out of high school, borrowing $100k for a liberal arts degree," and I did not hear anyone suggesting that "long hours making french fries [are] the equivalent of being a nurse."
Scott, it would be so great if you could commit your thought and energy to figuring out how to help people improve their situation. Maybe you could tutor at an inner-city after school program? Serve as a big brother? But your comments only foster resentment among both the haves and the have-nots.

Jan. 20 2014 12:24 PM
Scott from Soho

Congratulations on bringing together a group of misguided yet seemingly we'll intentioned people to discuss how to continue the downward spiral of non gentrified communities in NYC and beyond. I may have missed it, but I don't think I heard any mention of personal responsibility. Blaming others for bad decisions like getting pregnant at 15, dropping out of high school, borrowing $100k for a liberal arts degree, or thinking that long hours making french fries is the equivalent of being a nurse is not helping your cause.

Keep up the good work. It took 16 years to dig NY out of the gutter, with the new group in charge, we should be back in the gutter within 4.

Jan. 20 2014 12:09 PM
Joyce from NYC

I am so disappointed with many of the resentful, politics of victimhood in some of these speeches.

And the ugliness of the DeBlasio inauguration, with the ugly speech by the Public Advocated.

We have dark time to look forward to, especially for those less fortunate.

Jan. 20 2014 12:00 PM

As someone fortunate enough to have been in attendance at this event yesterday, I left with greater understanding, appreciation, hope, and resolve. Thank you for this gathering. Please have more like it.

Jan. 20 2014 12:00 PM
oscar from ny

Everyone has a different realization of what love means..the word live is overrated in a this new world where the love of ppl has dimmed.. our hearts have turn cold, money is the only love affair ppl have now, Dr Martin Luther king fought in his times with weapons made for that particular times..but in this new century our enemy could care less for our words or our deeds..why do you think jesus when he aarives will throw most in a burning lake? defeat this new world order some of us must understand to hate..because if you don't hate you will not be worthy to be an apostle of good..the deciever is more clever than you think..let's pray to God that he would help us defeat this evil that has the world in his grips..

Jan. 20 2014 11:56 AM
Ann from Westchester

Until this last panel, I did feel overwhelmed by the religious tone and content. I appreciated moving away from religion to spiritualism (whatever that may be).

Jan. 20 2014 11:54 AM
rose-ellen from jackson heights

MLK said anyone who did not side with Israel was an anti Semite. He therefore labeled Arabs existentially evil. Perhaps had "Mr. Human Rights, Mr. Peace and Justice" ,Mr. Kum By Ya" himself had a more balanced assessment of that conflict, there would be peace there by now,9-11 would have never happened or these 13years of war. He was an anti Semite himself[against Arabs this time].He's got a lot of blood on his hands as he put his imprimatur on an anti Palestinian [Arab] narrative.

Jan. 20 2014 11:51 AM

I ♥ Dr. Jan Willis!!

Jan. 20 2014 11:48 AM

What does it say about a society that turns it's back on the arts??

…a city that sells itself to the highest bidder??

Young people no longer see NYC as a place to create. They now see NYC as a place to go to AFTER you've made it.

These same people are now flocking to the secondary and tertiary American cities.

A city devoid of young creatives is a city devoid of culture.

…and, no! Young device-adled "techies" coming up with the latest way to fleece us all out of another nickel and tacitly corroborating with the NSA is NOT culture!!

Jan. 20 2014 11:40 AM
John from Brooklyn

"Well I think jobs were always scarce..."

Ummmm, NO! That's simply not true. You can't compare the economic/jobs climate in the 70's/80's to the way it is in 2014.

Jan. 20 2014 11:31 AM
Pam from NY

One word re.- Gadadhara Pandit Dasa:

Jan. 20 2014 11:15 AM
Mr. Bad from NYC

@ RJ from prospect hts

Couldn't have said it better myself. King has been completely co-opted and I daresay that this holiday has just become another entitlement whose purpose is political cover. King was uniquely brilliant and a true revolutionary but now he is a cuddly, saintly figure who only wants the best for the poltical establishment? Nothing is more ironic than the fact Obama picked the Friday before the long MLK weekend to effectively bury the NSA speech in the news cycle. MLK is rolling over in his grave.

Jan. 20 2014 11:07 AM
John from office

Time for the local "racist" to chine in. The same night as Brian's MLK night a black young man shot to death another young black man at a local housing project, blocks from where Brian sat. This was over "Turf". MLK would be ashamed of what is the new norm on black America. There has been much progress, but too much blaming others, for self inflicted wounds.

Jan. 20 2014 10:55 AM
RJ from prospect hts

I find the notion, stated by Karen Tumulty in the first segment, that MLK would want his message interpreted as a day of "service" bizarre. He protested, he was arrested, he gave voice to inequity and empowerment, he amplified the then and present inextricability of race and financial discrimination. Did he really mean for the federal government to interpret this as an "MLK Day of Service" Web site, which reads: "Why Serve on MLK Day of Service?"

"Dr. King believed in a nation of freedom and justice for all, and encouraged all citizens to live up to the purpose and potential of America by applying the principles of nonviolence to make this country a better place to live—creating the Beloved Community.
The MLK Day of Service is a way to transform Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life and teachings into community action that helps solve social problems. That service may meet a tangible need, or it may meet a need of the spirit. On this day, Americans of every age and background celebrate Dr. King through service projects that strengthen communities, empower individuals, bridge barriers, and create solutions."

These are nice tasks. But they do *not* represent his overarching Poor People's Campaign. I believe a day devoted to him should be much more directed toward organizing, teach-ins about power inequities (as well as financial ones), etc.

Jan. 20 2014 10:50 AM
Jennifer Larke from Bronx

We were *quite* disappointed that we were able to get in yesterday after we paid for a babysitter and travelled from further uptown. "(
These are such important topics, why must we wait until January to have these discussions? This is our city and we need to have these discussions on an ongoing basis. Can WNYC make a commitment to that?

Jan. 20 2014 10:40 AM
Ann from Westchester

Hi Brian,

I attended yesterday's event, and the fact that so many people who wanted to attended could not get in demonstrates how much people want to talk about their hopes for NYC and MLK's vision.

Still, I felt that the presentations were largely too vague, too cursory. For example, there was no discussion of homelessness (except for a brief mention of an intent to construct more affordable housing). The mention of educational inequities was similarly lacking. "How do we get there from here?" is my question (and it's not one that I expect you or anyone else could answer in one afternoon). Could we just build affordable housing already? Where, when, why has it not been done? How do we do better than the projects? Why are our schools still so lacking? Has Geoffrey Canada's experiment, the Harlem Children's Zone, worked? Do we have a model for success? How can we (collectively) roll up our sleeves and make a meaningful difference?
Thank you, as always, for your thoughtfulness. It is a treat to listen to your show. You intelligently look at the issues, you explain them in an understandable fashion, you draw your listeners into a conversation. You are a rare breed.

Jan. 20 2014 10:07 AM

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