Uptown Hall:
MLK, Activism, and the Arts Broadcast

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For more than eight decades, the Apollo has served as a gathering place and convener for local community residents as well as people from across New York City. That tradition continues as the Apollo partners with WNYC in an annual celebration of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., in collaboration with the March on Washington Film Festival.

Hosted by various WNYC radio hosts, this commemorative and uplifting event brings together scholars, cultural and community leaders, and activists to engage in conversations and performance exploring Dr. King’s legacy and how his work is continued today.

This year’s thought-provoking discussion focuses on the long-standing connection between activism and artistry, and how the struggle for social justice affected influencers from the likes of Nina Simone to John Legend, and how they in turn affected the struggle for social justice.

How to Watch

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Participiants

Najee Dorsey

Najee Dorsey

Najee Dorsey

PANELIST

Najee Dorsey, is a visual artist and entrepreneur. He is the Founder/CEO of Black Art in America (BAIA) is a leading online social network and multifaceted media company focused on African American art started in 2010. Najee has produced art exhibitions and events in NYC, Miami during Art Basel, Kansas City, Bentonville, Atlanta and numerous private events throughout the United States. He is also an accomplished visual artist in the permanent collections of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts: PAFA, Columbus Museum, Charles H. Wright in Detroit, MI, Houston Museum of African American Culture, David C. Driskell Collection, University of Maryland, College Park, MD, David W. Mullins Library at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR, Clark Atlanta University Museum and many other institutions and private collections. Najee has forged a successful career as an artist, being featured in numerous solo and group museum shows, television broadcasts and print publicationsAs well as these accomplishments, he has skillfully combined his creative edge, and business acumen to develop a steadily growing online community that documents, preserves and promotes the contributions of the African American arts community. Najee now lives in Columbus, GA with his wife, Seteria.

Website: https://najeedorsey.com/

Jonathan McCrory

Jonathan McCrory

Jonathan McCrory

PANELIST

Jonathan McCrory is a two Obie Award-winning, Harlem-based artist who has served as Executive Artistic Director at National Black Theatre since 2012 under the leadership of CEO, Sade Lythcott. He has directed numerous professional productions and concerts.  He has been acknowledged as an exceptional leader additionally through Craine’s New York Business 2020 Notable LGBTQ Leaders and Executives. In 2013, he was awarded the Emerging Producer Award by the National Black Theatre Festival in Winston Salem, North Carolina, and the Torch Bearer Award by theatrical legend Woodie King Jr. He is a founding member of the collaborative producing organizations Harlem9, Black Theatre Commons, The Jubilee, Next Generation National Network and The Movement Theatre Company. McCrory sits on the National Advisory Committee for Howlround.com and was a member of the original cohort for ArtEquity. A Washington, DC native, McCrory attended the Duke Ellington School of the Arts and New York University’s TISCH School of the Arts. To learn more, please visit www.jonathanmccrory.com.

Garrett McQueen

Garrett McQueen

Garrett McQueen

PANELIST

A proud native of Memphis, TN, Garrett McQueen is a bassoonist who has performed as a member of the South Arkansas Symphony, Jackson Symphony, American Youth Symphony, Memphis Repertory Orchestra, the Eroica Ensemble, and most recently, the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra. He has also collaborated with ensembles including the Sphinx Symphony Orchestra, Memphis Symphony Orchestra, the Southeast Symphony, the Artosphere and Gateways Festival Orchestras, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Louisville Orchestra, the Austin Symphony of Minnesota, and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. In addition to remaining active in performance spaces, Garrett is the host and producer behind many nationally-syndicated radio programs, including his annual Kwanzaa special and “The Sound of 13”, as heard in over 30 cities. He has also appeared as a guest-host in a number of classical music radio markets, including St. Louis, Knoxville, and Minneapolis. Away from the airwaves, Garrett specializes in music and racial equity presentations, with previous collaborators including the Gateways Music Festival, the Sphinx Organization, the Kennedy Center’s Shift Festival, and countless schools, colleges, and universities. Garrett has also offered keynotes for events hosted by the Black Music Experience, the Minnesota Music Teachers Association, New Music Gathering, and the MacPhail Center for Music. 

Rashad Robinson

Rashad Robinson

Rashad Robinson

PANELIST

Rashad Robinson is President of Color Of Change, a leading racial justice organization with more than 7 million members. Rashad designs winning strategies to build power for Black communities: moving prosecutors to reduce mass incarceration and police violence; forcing over 100 corporations to abandon the right-wing policy shop, ALEC; forcing corporations to stop supporting Trump initiatives and white nationalists; winning net neutrality as a civil rights issue; changing representations of race in Hollywood; moving Airbnb, Google and Facebook to implement anti-racist initiatives; forcing Bill O’Reilly off the air. Rashad appears regularly in major news media and as a keynote speaker nationally. He was among the first in a global cohort of Atlantic Fellows for Racial Equity, and writes a monthly column about race, politics and corporate accountability for The Guardian. Previously, Rashad served as Senior Director of Media Programs at GLAAD. Rashad is currently the Co-Chair of the Aspen Commission on Information Disorder and serves on the boards of the Hazen Foundation and Marguerite Casey Foundation. 

Damion L Thomas, PhD photo

Damion L. Thomas, PhD

Damion L. Thomas, PhD

PANELIST

Damion L. Thomas, PhD is a published author, speaker, and the Museum Curator of Sports for the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC).  He earned a PhD at UCLA in United State History. Prior to joining the NHAAMC, he was an assistant professor at the University of Maryland-College Park and the University of Illinois-Urbana/Champaign.  He is the author of Globetrotting: African American Athletes and Cold War Politics, as well as numerous articles and Op-Ed.

Woodson

Jacqueline Woodson

Jacqueline Woodson

PANELIST

I wrote on everything and everywhere. I remember my uncle catching me writing my name in graffiti on the side of a building. (It was not pretty for me when my mother found out.) I wrote on paper bags and my shoes and denim binders. I chalked stories across sidewalks and penciled tiny tales in notebook margins. I loved and still love watching words flower into sentences and sentences blossom into stories. 

I also told a lot of stories as a child. Not “Once upon a time” stories but basically, outright lies. I loved lying and getting away with it! There was something about telling the lie-story and seeing your friends’ eyes grow wide with wonder. Of course I got in trouble for lying but I didn’t stop until fifth grade. 

That year, I wrote a story and my teacher said “This is really good.” Before that I had written a poem about Martin Luther King that was, I guess, so good no one believed I wrote it. After lots of brouhaha, it was believed finally that I had indeed penned the poem which went on to win me a Scrabble game and local acclaim. 

 

Andrew Young

Andrew Young

Andrew Young

PANELIST

Andrew Young is a native of New Orleans, Louisiana.   He attended Dillard University, Howard University — where he was a member of the varsity swimming team — and Hartford, Connecticut Theological Seminary.

He was ordained as a minister in 1955, and his first pastoral assignment was deep in rural Southwest Georgia in Thomasville in Thomas County.

From there, he and his young family moved to New York City where he worked on the staff of the National Council of Churches before returning to Georgia to help lead “citizenship schools” that had been established to tutor African-Americans in literacy, organizing, and leadership skills.

It was that work which introduced him to the then recently-founded Southern Christian Leadership Conference.   He became a member of SCLC and began working with Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Rev. Young ultimately became SCLC’s Executive Director and, later, Executive Vice President. As a top lieutenant and right-hand to Dr. King throughout the revolutionary American Civil Rights Movement , Andrew Young became known as “The Great Negotiator”!  He risked his own life many times during the Movement — most notoriously in St. Augustine, Florida. He was there at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee on April 4, 1968.

 

Jami Floyd

Jami Floyd

Jami Floyd

HOST

Jami Floyd is the Director, Race & Justice Unit at New York Public Radio. She is also the Legal Editor in the WNYC Newsroom.

Jami was born and raised in New York City. She has been a news junkie ever since childhood, when she delivered newscasts for her grandmother from the dining room table. She went on to serve as editor-in-chief of her high school newspaper, ombudsperson for the college newspaper and to DJ for WHRW, the campus radio station at Binghamton University (S.U.N.Y.). At Berkeley Law School, she was served as an associate editor of the California Law Review, where she also published. 

In a journalism career that spans two decades, Jami has worked on everything from breaking news, to exclusives, to long-form investigations. Jami has interviewed countless news makers, including Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, and former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, cited by The New York Times for her barrage of “hard-hitting” questions. Jami still considers her interview with Myrlie Evers-Williams, widow of slain civil rights leader Medgar Evers to be her most meaningful. 

Until September 2020, served as the weekday host of “All Things Considered.”.

Brian Lehrer

Brian Lehrer

Brian Lehrer

HOST

Brian Lehrer is host of The Brian Lehrer Show, WNYC Radio’s daily call-in program, covering politics and life, locally and globally. The show airs weekdays from 10am-noon on WNYC 93.9 FM, AM 820 and wnyc.org. 

The Brian Lehrer Show was recognized with a 2007 George Foster Peabody Award for “Radio That Builds Community Rather Than Divides.” 

The New York Times called Lehrer a “master interviewer.” Time magazine called the program “New York City’s most thoughtful and informative talk show.” The Daily News calls it “cutting edge” for its extreme interactivity and creative use of the internet. Political guests have ranged nationally from Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton to Mitch McConnell and Kellyanne Conway, and locally from Chris Christie to Cynthia Nixon and beyond. Cultural guests have included Wynton Marsalis, Margaret Atwood, Junot Diaz, Judd Apatow, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Yogi Berra, and so many others. 

Lehrer is also a commentator on local and national issues on television and in print. He has appeared on TV channels including CNN, MSNBC, Fox News Channel, C-SPAN, NY1, and The Colbert Report on Comedy Central. He has written op-ed pieces for publications including The New York Times, The Daily News, Newsday, and Slate 

Terrance McKnight

Terrance McKnight

Terrance McKnight

HOST

Terrance McKnight: a proud voice resounding from the middle of the road. Terrance is the evening host on WQXR. 

When Terrance McKnight moved to New York City, his 96-year-old grandmother offered him a few words of wisdom: “If you’ve got something to say, get out there in the middle of the road and say it; don’t go hiding behind no bush.” From a long line of passionate citizens — his maternal family founded a branch of the NAACP in Mississippi and his father the pastor of a church in Cleveland — Terrance and his siblings were expected to contribute to their community while growing up. Early on, Terrance decided he would take the musician’s journey. 

As a teenager, he played trumpet in the school orchestra and played piano for various congregations around Cleveland.  At Morehouse College and Georgia State University he performed with the college Glee Club and New Music Ensemble respectively and subsequently joined the music faculty at Morehouse. While in Georgia he brought his love of music and performing to the field of broadcasting.  

Terrance is an Artistic Advisor for the Harlem Chamber Players and serves on the board of the Bagby Foundation and the MacDowell Colony.   

Melissa Harris-Perry

Melissa Harris-Perry

Melissa Harris-Perry

HOST

Professor Melissa Harris-Perry is the Maya Angelou Presidential Chair in the Department of Politics and International Affairs, the Department of Women and Gender Studies, and the Program in Environment and Sustainability at Wake Forest University. There she teaches courses on American politics at the intersections of race, place, and gender.

She is host of the daily national radio show and podcast The Takeaway, from WNYC and PRX. Professor Harris-Perry is founder and president of the Anna Julia Cooper Center, whose mission is to advance justice through intersectional scholarship and action. Along with Dorian Warren, Harris-Perry is co-creator and co-host of the podcast System Check.

From 2012-2016, she hosted the television show “Melissa Harris-Perry” on MSNBC and was awarded the Hillman Prize for broadcast journalism. She has served as editor-at-large Elle.com and for ZORA. She continues to serve as contributing editor for The Nation.

Professor Harris-Perry is an award-winning author and sought-after public speaker, lecturing widely throughout the United States and abroad. Harris-Perry received her B.A. degree in English from Wake Forest University and her Ph.D. degree in political science from Duke University. Harris-Perry previously served on the faculty of the University of Chicago, Princeton University, and Tulane University.

The Takeaway can be heard weekdays at 3 p.m. on 93.9 FM, and wnyc.org

Alison Stewart

Alison Stewart

Alison Stewart

HOST

Alison Stewart is host of All Of It with Alison Stewart, WNYC’s daily live afternoon program about culture and the culture in and around New York City. She is also the host of the monthly book club GET LIT WITH ALL OF IT, a partnership with The New York Public Library. Stewart began her media career shortly after graduating from Brown University as a producer/reporter for MTV News’ breakthrough presidential campaign coverage “Choose or Lose”–which earned her a Peabody Award. She has spent more than two decades reporting and has anchored her own news programs on NPR, PBS, ABC and MSNBC including NPR’s digital news program Bryant Park Project and the first season of TED Radio Hour. She’s a contributor with The Atlantic LIVE and PBS NewsHour and the author of two books; FIRST CLASS: The Legacy of Dunbar, America’s First Black Public High School and JUNK: Digging Through America’s Love Affair With Stuff.

Kai Wright

Kai Wright

Kai Wright

HOST

Kai Wright is host and managing editor of The United States of Anxiety, a show about the unfinished business of our history and its grip on our future. The show airs live on WNYC, Sundays at 6p eastern. 

In addition, Wright was the host of WNYC Studios’ other limited edition podcasts with social justice themes: The Stakes, There Goes the Neighborhood, and Caught: The Lives of Juvenile Justice, which was honored with an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award. He also served as one of the hosts of Indivisible, a national live radio call-in show that WNYC convened during the first 100 days of the Trump Administration to invite Americans to come together across divides. 

Wright’s journalism centers social, racial, and economic justice. Formerly, he was an editor at The Nation and the editorial director of Colorlines. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, Mother Jones, and Salon, and his broadcast appearances include MSNBC and NPR. Wright is the author of Drifting Toward Love: Black, Brown, Gay and Coming of Age on the Streets of New York. 

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