Brooklyn Magazine: MLK at BAM, 35 years on

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Alvin Armstrong

What would Martin Luther King, Jr., think of 2021? What would bring him hope for the future?

The Brooklyn Academy of Music is hosting an installation at the iconic BAM sign on Flatbush in tribute to the man, which opens on Friday. The weeklong event will celebrate his life for the 35th consecutive year and attempt to understand him in the current confused climate.

The goal, Alvin Armstrong told the Brooklyn Reader is to demonstrate “the power and necessity for those outside of Black people’s trauma to educate themselves around the deep-rooted racism in this country. The true unique occurrence of this past year is that the world was on pause and kind of forced them into what we go through on a daily basis. Through all the pain in this country, I am optimistic that if nothing else, there is an opportunity for growth.”

In addition to Armstrong, curator Larry Ossei-Mensah brings together Brooklyn-based artists including Derrick Adams, Laylah Amatullah Barrayn, Lizania Cruz, Kameelah Janan Rasheed, Hank Willis Thomas, and Jasmine Wahi.

BAM’s Monday lineup, details at

“As a new year begins, bringing a change of leadership to the White House, this new art installation transforms the BAM sign into a provocative exploration of the notion of freedom and the legacy of Dr. King,” says the BAM website. The installation, “Let Freedom Ring,” will be up for one week starting tomorrow at the corner of Lafayette and Flatbush.

On Monday, BAM will stream for free New York City’s largest public celebration of King’s legacy at their 35th Annual Tribute to Dr. King.

Activists, civic leaders, musicians and performers—including Alicia Garza (author of “The Purpose of Power” and co-founder of the Black Lives Matter Global Network). Grammy-winner PJ Morton, Tarriona “Tank” Ball, Sing Harlem!, poets Timothy DuWhite and Ashley August—will reflect on the idea of “hard-earned hope.”

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Brooklyn Magazine