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WNYC and the Apollo Theater present the 16th annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Celebration, exploring the influence of artists in the civil rights movement and how that legacy of activism in the arts continues today. WNYC's Melissa Harris-Perry, Jami Floyd, Brian Lehrer, Alison Stewart and Kai Wright moderate. WQXR's Terrance McKnight is Master of Ceremonies.
- Trezana Beverly – First African-American actress to receive a Tony Award for “Best Featured Actress in a Play” (for the 1977 Broadway play For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide / When the Rainbow Is Enuf)
- Najee Dorsey – Founder of Black Art in America (BAIA) and visual artist
- JSWISS – Rapper
- Jonathan McCrory – Director, National Black Theatre of Harlem
- Garrett McQueen – Advocate for diversity in classical music
- Rashad Robinson – President, Color of Change
- Reverend Al Sharpton – Host of MSNBC's “Politics Nation,” President of National Action Network, internationally renowned civil rights activist
- Damion Thomas – Curator, Museum of Sports for Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture
- Jacqueline Woodson – Author and 2020 MacArthur Fellow
- The Honorable Andrew Young – Former mayor of Atlanta, first black UN Ambassador, member of U.S. House of Representatives, activist during 1960’s civil rights movement; contributing a special video message
“MLK – Activism and the Arts” also includes artistic presentations and performances. Gregory Hopkins directs The Gathering Quartet in a preview performance from Joel Thompson’s oratorio Seven Last Words of the Unarmed, a powerful, multi-movement choral work honoring black men killed by police or by authority figures; this performance is an excerpt from The Gathering: A Collective Sonic Ring Shout which will debut at the Apollo in May. The event also features a video presentation by classical music curator Garrett McQueen on the history of activism by Pan-African musicians. Rapper JSWISS close outs the program with an electrifying tribute to black trailblazers.