WNYC & The Apollo Theater Present "Race & Privilege: Exploring MLK's Two Americas"

WNYC & The Apollo Theater Present “Race and Privilege: Exploring MLK’s Two Americas”

Event Part of Apollo’s Uptown Hall Series and
WNYC’s 10th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration


With Pulitzer Prize-winning Journalists Jose Antonio Vargas and TAYLOR BRANCH, 
Race Forward Executive Director RINKU SEN, 
and Color of Change Executive Director Rashad Robinson

Plus, the premiere of a new work by composer Daniel Bernard Roumain

Sunday, January 17, 2016
Free and Open to the Public

Event presented in collaboration with March on Washington Film Festival

(New York, NY – December 17, 2015) – On Sunday, January 17 at 3pm, for the 10th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day celebration, WNYC and the Apollo Theater will partner for a third year to present “Race and Privilege: Exploring MLK’s Two Americas, as part of the Apollo’s Uptown Hall series. WNYC’s Peabody Award-winning host Brian Lehrer and Jami Floyd, local host of WNYC’s All Things Considered, will moderate  an open and honest discussion on disparity in America, looking at the persistence of institutional racism and how individuals can combat racism everyday on multiple fronts.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was masterful at shining a spotlight on institutional racism, but he also spoke vigorously of the need to fight prejudice on all levels – from the political to the personal to within one’s individual soul. Through one-on-one interviews, media presentations and a series of panels with leading voices in journalism, higher education, activism, and social justice spheres – including Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas, Race Forward Executive Director Rinku Sen, and Color of Change Executive Director Rashad Robinson – “Race and Privilege: Exploring MLK’s Two Americas” will identify how individuals, businesses, organizations and legislators can engage in sustained efforts to combat racism and effect social and political change.

Other guests will include:

  • Taylor Branch – Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, author and historian best known for his award-wining trilogy of books chronicling the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement
  • Rokhaya Diallo – French-Senegalese filmmaker, TV personality and cultural activist
  • Eddie Glaude, Jr., Ph.D.  – Author and Chair of Princeton University’s African-American Studies Department
  • Sherrilyn Ifill – President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.
  • Rev. Mike Walrond – Sr. Pastor, First Corinthian Baptist Church in Harlem, New York
  • Sheena Wright – CEO, United Way of Greater NYC

The event will also include a special video interview between Former Attorney General Eric Holder and NPR’s Michele Norris, a collaborative performance of “Blackbird, Fly” by composer Daniel Bernard Roumain (DBR) and spoken-word artist Marc Bamuthi Joseph, and an intimate duet between DBR and internationally renowned Haitian singer Emeline Michel.

“It’s exciting to celebrate our 10th MLK event during a year when conversations about race are becoming more urgent and more elevated,” said Brian Lehrer. “From the increased media coverage of police brutality against people of color to Rachel Dolezal’s co-opting of black identity to soul-searching on the part of corporations and individuals – race is no longer being swept under the rug as easily as it used to be. We’re thrilled to partner once again with the Apollo Theater to celebrate Dr. King’s legacy and its relevance today, and to bring together people of all backgrounds for a constructive dialogue on the ways everyday citizens, politicians, and businesses can make positive change.”

"The Apollo Theater has always been a kind of 'town hall' for Harlem and the New York community, serving as a gathering place during historic moments in African American culture,” said Jonelle Procope, President & CEO of the Apollo Theater. “Apollo Uptown Hall is an extension of this role, as we continue to provide forums for discourse and open dialogue around issues of importance to our community.  We are so pleased to partner with WNYC for this edition of Uptown Hall, bringing together artists and cultural activists with public intellectuals and community leaders as we celebrate Dr. King’s enduring and inspiring legacy.”

“Race and Privilege: Exploring MLK’s Two Americas” is free and open to the public, but RSVPs are mandatory at: www.apollotheater.org/event/uptown-hall/

In addition, for the second year in a row, WNYC will host “Movement: A Celebration Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.” – an evening of music, dance and performance on Thursday, January 14 at 7pm at The Jerome L. Greene Performance Space at WNYC. WQXR’s Terrance McKnight will host the event, which will feature a range of artists exploring the role that movement has in activism including dancers from the Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company, internationally recognized step dance group Soul Steps, classical music collective Harlem Chamber Players and Diversity Youth Theater, who will perform an excerpt from "The Movement," an a cappella musical inspired by the 1963 children's march against segregation in Birmingham, Alabama.

Tickets for “Movement” are available at www.thegreenespace.org

And in celebration of Black History Month, the Apollo’s Open House Weekend (taking place on Saturday, February 6th and Sunday, February 7th) will showcase the theater’s consistent place within the black advocacy movement and the important role of the artist/activist.  The weekend of activities include: film and music presentations celebrating legendary Apollo artists who championed black pride and social justice such as James Brown, Nina Simone, and Bob Marley; performances by the rising stars of today who continue to carry the baton including musicians Chris Rob and Steff Reed, and poet NeNe Ali; and a free screening of Stanley Nelson’s The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution, the first feature-length documentary exploring the Black Panther Party.



About WNYC

From its state-of-the-art studios in New York City, WNYC is reshaping audio for a new generation of listeners, with groundbreaking, innovative radio programs and podcasts that include RadiolabFreakonomics RadioOn the MediaHere’s the Thing with Alec Baldwin; Death, Sex & Money; and New Tech City, among others. With an urban vibrancy and a global perspective, WNYC is America’s most listened-to public radio station and the home to an award-winning newsroom of 70 journalists. 


About the Apollo Theater

The legendary Apollo Theater—the soul of American culture—plays a vital role in cultivating emerging talents and launching legends. Since its founding, the Apollo has served as a center of innovation and a creative catalyst for Harlem, the city of New York, and the world.


With music at its core, the Apollo’s programming extends to dance, theater, performance art, spoken word initiatives, and more.  This includes the October 2014 premiere and 2015 international tour of the dance celebration project - James Brown: Get on the Good Foot, the annual Africa Now! Festival, Apollo Club Harlem and the upcoming New York premiere of the opera Charlie Parker’s YARDBIRD.


The Apollo is a presenting organization that also produces festivals, large-scale dance and music works organized around a set of core initiatives: Apollo Music Signature Programs—Amateur Night, Salon Series, Apollo Music Café; Legacy Series - work that celebrates and extends the Apollo’s legacy through a contemporary lens; Global Festivals including the Women of the World (WOW) Festival and Breakin’ Convention, international and U.S.-based artist presentations focused on a specific theme; and Special Projects, multidisciplinary work with partner organizations.


Since introducing the first Amateur Night contests in 1934, the Apollo Theater has served as a testing ground for new artists working across a variety of art forms, and has ushered in the emergence of many new musical genres—including jazz, swing, bebop, R&B, gospel, blues, soul, and hip-hop. Among the countless legendary performers who launched their careers at the Apollo are D’Angelo, Lauryn Hill, Machine Gun Kelly, Miri Ben Ari, D’Angelo, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Billie Holiday, James Brown, Michael Jackson, Gladys Knight, Luther Vandross, and Stevie Wonder; and the Apollo’s forward-looking artistic vision continues to build on this legacy.

The Apollo Theater is a not-for-profit organization and currently in the midst of fundraising for its 21st Century Apollo Campaign, created to extend the institution’s role in fostering artistic innovation and in building appreciation of American culture around the world. Visit www.apollotheater.org