Written by The New Pittsburgh Courier
DARRELL KINSEL IN FRONT OF MANY HANDS BILLBOARD
by Genea L. Webb
For New Pittsburgh Courier
For the fourth year in a row, the Kelly Strayhorn Theater will host an afternoon of activities geared to celebrating the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
“These types of events are about learning your history. I hope this inspires people to want to play a role and be a part of the hard working few who are trying to make a change," explained Kelly Strayhorn Theater Executive Director Janera Solomon. "I hope people come as a family and see the neighborhood of East Liberty and be entertained after seeing some great performances. Our activities were inspired by this Dr. King quote: Almost always, the creative dedicated minority has made the world better.”
The event, which is free, family-friendly and open to the public, will take place in the Kelly Strayhorn Theater's lobby and stage on Jan. 21 from noon to 4 p.m.
The event will feature a lively performance by the August Wilson Dance Ensemble, Soundwaves Steel Band, The Alumni Theater Company, Dreams of Hope, The YMCA Lighthouse Music Crew and Visionary Dance Academy.
“This is a performance celebration of the African-American experience and Martin Luther King Jr., and that is what the August Wilson Dance Ensemble and the August Wilson Center for African American Culture tries to preserve with our center and our dance ensemble so it was a no-brainer for us to participate," said Greer Reed, founding artistic director of the center's dance ensemble."We have to continue to have a voice as a people, but the ensemble shows that we're all the same and we are rooted in the African experience.”
Nicole Carter didn't think twice when the Visionary Dance Academy was asked to be on the celebration's bill of performers.
“We believe we should all work together and come together and we use music to show that we are all one family. We only succeed if we help one another. It means a lot for us to be in this year's MLK celebration," said Nicole Carter, founding artistic director of Visionary Dance Academy, a performing arts organization that provides performing arts and martial arts training for kids ages 7-17. The group will be performing two dance pieces for the celebration.
In addition to performances, several organizations including Big Brothers and Big Sisters, Bike Pittsburgh and the Marilyn G. Rabb Foundation, an organization committed to overcome social and economic barriers and creating innovative programs that positively impact our communities, will have informational booths in the lobby of the Kelly Strayhorn Theater.
“This celebration is a way to connect with people and it's fun," said Darrell Kinsel, program director at MGR. "We'll be providing a craft table and reading table in the lobby asking participants what Dr. King's quotes mean to them. We will make a collage of the quotes to display in the theater to show the importance of Dr. King's legacy.”
To end the festivities from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., the Union Project, a neighborhood space where people come together to connect, create and celebrate, will honor Dr. King by using dialogue to focus on ways in which people are living the dream. Over dinner, guests are encouraged to meet new people and speak about Dr. King's dream, how we pursue it and how we are living it today.
"Each year we reach out to organizations that work with young people because we use this event to show young people that what they are doing matters," Solomon said.