Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2022
We cannot believe that it has been a full year since our last MLK day post! This is always our favorite celebration of the year and we are so sad to have to cancel it once again. We love celebrating the life and work of Dr Martin Luther King Jr and other civil rights activists and Black artists with our community and learning about how we can appreciate and also continue their work. Although we can’t host you this year we hope you can look at our past years activities as well as the ones we had planned for this year and celebrate with your own smaller friend and family groups.
Our first activity is about continuing the Civil Rights movement’s fight to protect everyone’s right to vote. The famous march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama in 1965 was to bring attention to disenfranchised Black voters in the southern states. The peaceful protest, led by civil rights leader John Lewis, was met with state troopers who attacked them with tear gas and clubs. Over 50 people were hospitalized from the attack.
The footage of this attack was played on every national news station that night and sparked outrage across the country. The march eventually did happen, under protection of the National Guard, with 25,000 people eventually joining by the time they reached the capitol building in Montgomery. The news footage and photographs taken on what became known as “Bloody Sunday” galvanized public opinion and led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
This year Dr King’s family has asked that, to honor his legacy and day of service, people mobilize around the country to protect voter’s rights through the passage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Freedom to Vote Act. The bills are currently waiting to be passed by the Senate.
If you don’t know who your state senators are you can find them and their contact info here and then call or send a postcard to ask them to pass these important bills and other legislation that protects everyone’s right to vote.
Our next activity looks at the art of Wadsworth Jarrell, an artist and cofounder of AfriCOBRA.
Our inspiration piece for this art project is subtitled: African Rhythm, Our Heritage. This piece was painted over tin foil which you can see shining through some of the negative space. The figures in the piece blend into the words, bright colors, and swirling shapes and patterns on and around them that signify the music they are playing.
Here are a few of his other art pieces which also use bright colors and bold shapes along with his personal experience with his Black heritage and community:
Our final activity is about the power of protest in advancing the rights of disenfranchised (people who can’t vote) and underrepresented people — people who’s voices will not be heard in the government — as those who can vote or are in the majority might be.
Below are some examples of posters protestors held during the Civil Rights movement of the 1960’s. Notice that they are short and succinct — they say exactly why they are protesting and the result they want from the protest.
Protests happen all over the world for lots of different reasons. When you create your protest sign it can be about any cause that you care about!
This has been another crazy and unpredictable year! As always you can visit your local library to find some books about Dr King, other Black leaders, and the civil rights movement. We hope that next year we can have a big party to celebrate Martin Luther King Day but in the meantime you can look at three years of activities and have your own celebration!