Saratoga Springs

MLK Saratoga presents weekend-long Dr. King Celebration

From left, Michelle Coles, Joe Bruchac and Jean-Remy Monnay are among the participants in MLK Saratoga's Dr. King Celebration.
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From left, Michelle Coles, Joe Bruchac and Jean-Remy Monnay are among the participants in MLK Saratoga's Dr. King Celebration.

MLK Saratoga is hosting a weekend filled with virtual and in-person performances, community events and workshops as part of its Dr. King Celebration.

“We were hoping that we could do it in person because all of us are probably in the same mindset right now. We need people,” said organizer Jocelyn Khoury. “We need people around us. It’s been a rough couple of years but we are always thinking about the community first and we want to keep them safe.”

The celebration kicks off on Friday with dance, poetry and music by local artists, performed as part of the virtual Dr. King Challenge. On Saturday, the schedule is packed with performances and discussions, including one on critical race theory.

Organized by MLK Saratoga in partnership with S.E.E.N., The Black Studies Program at Skidmore College, and SUNY Empire State College Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, the virtual discussion will define and explore the theory that’s made so many headlines recently.

One of the in-person events on the docket for that day is a screening of “Lost Rondout: A Story of Urban Removal,” at 2 p.m. at the Saratoga Springs Public Library, followed by a discussion on the legacy of urban renewal in Saratoga Springs. A mural from C.R.E.A.T.E. Community Studios will also be unveiled.

Saturday wraps up with a virtual community conversation at 7 p.m. with Reverend Kenneth Clarke who will explore the later careers of King and Malcolm X and how they reflected an evolving struggle for black freedom in the country.

Caffe Lena will be live streaming many of the events on Sunday, including “O, Jerusalem,” a eulogy written by King about Reverend James Reeb, a Boston Unitarian Universalist minister who marched in Selma, Alabama in 1965 and was attacked and killed by white supremacists shortly after. It will be read by Donald Hyman with Sister Amelia Paul and Kim Wafer

“It’s really a touching performance,” Khoury said.

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, organizers encourage community members to volunteer with virtual and on-site projects, ranging from creating personal hygiene kits for Code Blue shelters to volunteering at the Regional Food Bank to neighborhood clean-ups.

Rounding out the celebrations on Monday, there will be a virtual interfaith celebration at 2 p.m. with Reverend Paul J. Borowski as the keynote speaker.

“The theme for this year is ‘I have decided to stick with love,’ and that is what the community has shown us throughout our journey, and we hope that we are giving that back to the community. That’s what we strive for,” Khoury said.

While the hybrid format of this year’s celebration has its drawbacks, there have been upsides too. Khoury, who is a New York City native, has long wanted her family and friends living in the city to attend the Dr. King Celebrations in Saratoga but they couldn’t make the trip.

“Last year, they were able to participate in workshops because we went virtual. It’s a good thing, if we can provide both it opens it up not only to this community but to the outreaches of other communities that might be having the same issues,” Khoury said.

For the full schedule, or to register for the events, visit mlksaratoga.org. All in-person events require proof of vaccination and attendees are required to wear a mask.

Here’s a look at the schedule:
Friday
7 – 8:30 p.m. | Art & Performance: 7th Annual Dr. King Challenge [virtual]

Saturday
9 – 9:15 a.m. | Community Peace Meditation [virtual]

10 – 10:45 a.m. | Family Puppet Theater (hybrid) > “The Three Little Pigs – What’s Love Got to Do with It?” (presented by The Puppet People) [virtual]

10 – 11:30 a.m. | Workshop: “Nonviolent Communication Practice” (with Philomena Moriarty) [virtual]

11 a.m. – noon | “…and Who Walked This Ground” (with Dr. Joe Bruchac, presented by Youth2) [virtual]

Noon – 1:30 p.m. | Panel Discussion: “Communities in Action — A Community Forum on Critical Race Theory: What It Is, What It Isn’t, and the Implications for Our Community” [virtual]

2 – 4 p.m. | Film screening and Panel discussion with mural unveiling: “The Lost Rondout: A Story of Urban Removal” [in-person]

4:30 – 5:30 p.m | Northshire presents: “A Conversation with Michelle Coles,” Dept. of Justice/Civil Rights Division Attorney and Debut Author of “Black Was The Ink” [virtual]

6 – 6:50 p.m. | Community Conversations # 1: “The Brilliance of the Female Spirit in Today’s Activism: Have Women Been the Deciding Factor in Faith and Social Activism throughout Our Country?” (with Reverend Holly Strickland) [virtual]

6 – 7 p.m. | Yaddo presents: “Love Is Transformation: Queer Genius in Contemporary Culture, with Author Arabelle Sicardi and Filmmaker Sam Feder [virtual]

7 – 7:50 p.m. | Community Conversations #2: “Martin and Malcolm: Shifting the Struggle from Civil Rights to Human Rights: (with Dr. Kenneth Clarke) [virtual]

Sunday
9 – 9:15 a.m. | Community Peace Meditation [virtual]

1 – 2 p.m. | Historical Theater: “O, Jerusalem” (Presented by The Labor of Love Connection) [virtual]

3:00 pm – 4:30 pm | A conversation with Jean-Remy Monnay, founder and artistic director of the Black Theatre Troupe of Upstate NY. [virtual]

5 – 6:30 p.m. | Community Conversations #3: “Hour of Love” ((interviews of local organizations who are doing great work right here — with interlude music by Julio Rodriguez.) [virtual]

7 – 8:30 p.m. | Slam poetry & open mic: “Love, Justice, & Unity” (Presented by Saratoga BLM and C.R.E.A.T.E. Studios in conjunction with Saratoga’s Affinity Studios) [virtual]

Monday
9 – 9:15 a.m. | Community Peace Meditation [virtual]

9:15 a.m. | Registration for In-Person Projects (Saratoga Springs Public Library)

9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. | MLK Day of SERVICE: Volunteer Projects [onsite & in-person and remote options]

Noon – 3 p.m. | Open house: Saratoga’s Youth Affinity Group [virtual]

2 – 3:30 p.m. | CommUNITY Interfaith Celebration of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. [virtual]

5 – 5:45 p.m. | Community Peace Meditation: “Creating Peace in a Spiritual Way — Putting Research into Practice” [virtual]

Categories: Life and Arts

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