Arts & Ideas

Uptown Hall:
MLK- Blueprint for the Culture


Presented by WNYC & The Apollo

The 17th annual Apollo Uptown Hall MLK celebration focuses on Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement of the 60’s as the template for modern social and civil justice movements. This year, we celebrate young people impacting society through activism, engagement, and a commitment to justice.

The Apollo has a decades-long tradition of serving as a convener for local community residents as well as people from across New York City. That tradition continues as the Apollo partners with WNYC in our annual celebration of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his enduring legacy on the culture. WNYC’s Notes from America host, Kai Wright moderates the first hour of this year’s celebration followed by music, spoken word and other forms of creative expressions with WQXR’s Terrance McKnight.

WNYC and Apollo presents Apollo Uptown Hall: MLK Blueprint for the Culture in collaboration with the March on Washington Film Festival.

This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

Following the in-person program, Celebrate MLK’s National Day of Service with an inspiring panel on the Apollo Digital Stage featuring a discussion on the pivotal role of young voices affecting change within their communities, curated by the Apollo Young Producers.

Apollo Young Producers Presents Young Changemakers

Ticket Information

Get Tickets

This is a free event with a ticket required. Free tickets are also available at the Apollo Theater box office. You must show your e-ticket at check in. Seating is by general admission and registration does not guarantee space. Doors open at 2PM. Tickets not scanned or picked up from the box office by 2:30PM on the day of the event will be released to patrons in the standby line. Please arrive early!


For the safety of our artists, audiences and staff, face coverings are optional but encouraged for all attendees while inside the theater. Click here for more information about our COVID safety policies.

How to watch Online

TUNE IN and WATCH LIVE: If you are unable to join us in person for this year’s Apollo Uptown Hall, we welcome you to tune in on the Apollo Digital Stage, Facebook or Youtube on Sunday, January 15 at 3pm ET for a livestream broadcast of the event. Then, at 5pm stay tuned in for the broadcast of MLK Young Changemakers.

Apollo Digital Stage





Aruan Ortiz pic

Aruán Ortiz

Aruán Ortiz

Cuban pianist, violist, and composer Aruán Ortiz has been an active figure in the progressive jazz and avant-garde NY scene in the US for more than 20 years.

His music spans a range of musical styles and has been interpreted by contemporary classical and jazz ensembles, dance companies, and in feature films and multimedia works. As a conceptualist and music researcher, Aruán’s music consolidates his Afro-Cuban and Haitian heritage, with avant-garde and progressive jazz, and contemporary classical language.

His pianism has been lauded as “a solid and unique new sound in today’s jazz world,”- by Matthew Fiander in PopMatters; “a genius exercise in the exploration of depth and perception that reveals a bright new wrinkle in the relationship between music and mathematics, reimagining Afro-Haitian Gaga rhythms, Afro-Cuban rumba and Yambú into heavily improvised meditations on modernism that recall John Cage
and Paul Bley,”- Ron Hart, The Observer; “one of the most creative and original composers in the world,” Lynn René Bailey, The Art Music Lounge; and “Ortiz is an experimentalist and a tonal provocateur, influenced by European modernism and contemporary jazz as much as by Afro-Cuban tradition”-,Giovanni Russonello, New York Times.

Since his arrival in the United States, Aruán’s has played, toured, or recorded with jazz luminaries such as Wadada Leo Smith, Don Byron, Greg Osby, Wallace Roney, Nicole Mitchell, William Parker, Adam Rudolph, Andrew Cyrille, Henry Grimes, Marshall Allen, Hamiet Bluiett, Oliver Lake, Rufus Reid and Terri Lyne Carrington. His recent albums as a leader released by Swiss label Intakt Records, have been
featured with rave reviews in major publications in the US and worldwide.

Brian Lehrer

Brian Lehrer

Brian Lehrer

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 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.

Chauncey Cropped

Chauncey Packer

Chauncey Packer

Chauncey Packer is an American tenor who has performed opera and concert works in houses as the Metropolitan Opera, Chicago Lyric Opera, Teatro alla Scala and Théâtre des Champs-Elysées. He has performed in the First National Broadway tours of Porgy and Bess and Cinderella. His 2022-23 season includes role debuts of Cavaradossi (Tosca) and Jo the Loiterer (The Mother of Us All) with Chautauqua Opera, The Witch (Hansel and Gretel) with New Orleans Opera, and Bardolfo (Falstaff) and Luis Rodrigo Griffin (Champion) with Metropolitan Opera. Mr. Packer will sing Sportin’ Life (Porgy and Bess) with NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra.

Chelsea_Miller Headshot 2022

Chelsea Miller

Chelsea Miller

A Columbia University graduate and Brooklyn native, Chelsea Miller is one of the leading voices in youth activism. Chelsea is the Co-Founder of Freedom March
NYC, one of the largest youth-led civil rights organizations in the country. Organizing movements in person and online, Chelsea is globally recognized for her ability to use social media to reach young audiences and build community.

With a digital reach of over 1.5 million through partnerships, ambassadorships, and digital campaigns, Chelsea has leveraged her knowledge to work with brands such as Versace, Nike, Puma, Toms, Facebook, and the WNBA.

As a public speaker, Chelsea has addressed thousands of people in speaking engagements that include Madison Square Garden, Yale University, and the March
on Washington. Her work has been featured in Forbes, Rolling Stone, Vogue, CNN, Financial Times, and more.

In 2021, Chelsea was honored as the Voice of Justice on the Oprah Winfrey Network by Vital Voices and NowThisNEXT. This past year, she was announced as one of 12 recipients to receive the Muhammad Ali Humanitarian award. Most recently, Chelsea was named as one of the newest commentators for NOWThis, the #1 most watched news brand globally on social.

Damien Speed

Damien Sneed

Damien Sneed

Damien Sneed is a pianist, vocalist, organist, composer, conductor, producer, arranger, recording artist, instrumentalist, and arts educator whose work spans multiple genres. He has worked with musical legends including the late Aretha Franklin and Jessye Norman (featured on Norman’s final recording, Bound for The Promised Land), Wynton Marsalis, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, Ashford & Simpson, J’Nai Bridges, Lawrence Brownlee, and more. Sneed has served as music director for several Grammy Award-winning gospel artists. He is a 2014 Sphinx Medal of Excellence recipient, a 2020 Dove Award winner, and a 2021 NAACP Image Award winner for his work as a featured producer and writer on the Clark Sisters’ recently released album The Return. Sneed is currently a faculty member of the Manhattan School of Music and Artist-in- Residence at both Berklee College of Music and Michigan State University. During the 2018-2019 season, he served as music director, composer in residence, and cover conductor for the staff of the Houston Grand Opera, who commissioned him to compose a new chamber opera about the life of Marian Anderson, Marian’s Song, which had its world premiere in 2020.Other commissions include the original score for Testament, a contemporary response to the 60th Anniversary of Revelations, for Alvin Ailey Dance Theater’s first virtual season; and a chamber opera, The Tongue & The Lash, for Opera Theatre of Saint Louis in 2021. He is currently commissioned to compose his fourth opera, a reimagined adaptation of Scott Joplin’s Treemonisha, which premieres May 20, 2023, to open OTSL’s season.

Dreamlaunchers logo black

Dream Launchers

Dream Launchers

Dream Launchers’ THE CLLCTV, is a multi-faceted vocal ensemble which has a vast repertoire ranging from Classical to Soul. THE CLLCTV is comprised of some of the best singers, artists, and musicians across the musical landscape. Under the direction of Dream Launchers’ Co-Founder, Emmy- nominated producer, Jonathan Ball, THE CLLCTV is at the forefront of vocal and band contracting, casting, and production within the entertainment industry. From soloists of every age, background, and musical genre to world-class choirs. Today’s CLLCTV performers are Therron Fowler founder of The Baltimore Urban Inspiration Choir. Gabby Samone, Pop/R&B recording artist. Jordan Waters, artist, and professional touring guitarist for LIZZO. Elyscia Jefferson, American Idol Semi-finalist and recording artist. Cameron Potts, singer, actor, and all things broadcast media. Stephen Jones Jr., singer, musician, teacher, and social media influencer. Ruby Hairston, background vocalist and musician. Darrin Scott, singer, and vocal director.

Harlem Chamber Players

The Harlem Chamber Players

The Harlem Chamber Players

The Harlem Chamber Players is an ethnically diverse collective of professional musicians dedicated to bringing high caliber, affordable, accessible live music to people in the Harlem community and beyond. Founded in 2008, The Harlem Chamber Players annually presents a rich season of formal live concerts, indoors, outdoors, and online. They also promote arts inclusion and equal access to the arts, bringing live music to underserved communities and promoting shared community arts and cultural engagement. The group was first inspired by the late Janet Wolfe, a long-time patron of musicians of color and founder of the NYC Housing Symphony Orchestra. The Harlem Chamber Players have performed at numerous venues throughout the city, including the Schomburg Center, Columbia University, Miller Theatre, Aaron Davis Hall, Convent Baptist Church, Merkin Concert Hall, The Apollo, the Cotton Club, all three halls at Carnegie Hall, Town Hall, Brooklyn Public Library, the Caramoor Music Festival, and at The Greene Space at WQXR and WYNC. The Harlem Chamber Players are also Artists-in-residence at the Harlem School of the Arts.

The Harlem Chamber Players have been featured on national radio at WQXR, and they have also been mentioned in articles in The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal, The Gothamist, The Amsterdam News, The Guardian, Musical America, on NPR, NBC, and “Here and Now” on ABC. The Harlem Chamber Players are recipients of the 2022 Sam Miller Award for Performing Arts presented by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. Founder Liz Player was named one of the “Top 30 Professionals of the Year” by Musical America.

Imani Perry Headshot

Imani Perry

Imani Perry

Born just nine years after the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama, Imani Perry was instilled from an early age with a strong instinct for justice and progressive change. The rich interplay between history, race, law, and culture continues to inform her work as a critically-acclaimed author and the Hughes-Rogers Professor of African American Studies at Princeton University.

Perry’s work reflects the deeply complex history of Black thought, art, and imagination. It is also informed by her background as a legal historian and her understanding of the racial inequality embedded in American law. Her book, Looking for Lorraine: The Radiant and Radical Life of Lorraine Hansberry, is a revealing biography of one of the most gifted and charismatic—yet least understood—Black artists and intellectuals of the twentieth century.

Although best-known for her seminal work A Raisin in the Sun, Lorraine Hansberry, who died at thirty-four, was by all accounts a force of nature with an unflinching commitment to social justice. Looking for Lorraine paints a “richly dimensional portrait” (Booklist, starred review) of the artist contending with exploitation, racism, patriarchy, and homophobia. As Library Journal noted in their starred review, “a must-read for fans of black and queer history, literary, biography, and women’s history.” A 2018 notable book by the New York Times, the book received the PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography; the Phi Beta Kappa Christian Gauss Award for Outstanding Work in Literary Scholarship; and the Lambda Literary Award for LGBTQ Nonfiction, among other honors.

She earned her Ph.D. in American Studies from Harvard University, a JD from Harvard Law School, an LLM from Georgetown University Law Center and a BA from Yale College in Literature and American Studies.

Kai Wright

Kai Wright

Kai Wright


Kai Wright is host and managing editor of Notes from America, a nationally syndicated live radio show and podcast about the unfinished business of our history and its grip on our future, produced by WNYC Studios. Wright has hosted several national radio specials, including a 2022 Juneteenth celebration produced in partnership with Texas public radio stations. In 2017, Wright was one of the hosts of Indivisible, a national pop-up call-in show produced by WNYC, Minnesota Public Radio, and The Economist, that aired throughout the first 100 days of the Trump presidency. He also hosted two social justice podcast series from WNYC: There Goes the Neighborhood, about gentrification in Brooklyn, and the duPont-Columbia Award-winning Caught: Lives of Juvenile Justice, a look at the lifelong effects of youth incarceration on men of color. Prior to WNYC, Wright worked in print and digital media, including editorial positions at ColorLines, and The Nation.

NEW – Sing Harlem! 2021

Sing Harlem! the award-winning musical group was formed to be the breakout choir for Mama Foundation for the Arts’ School of Gospel, Jazz, and R&B Arts. Under the direction of Ahmaya Knoelle Higginson, the choir has grown to be a highly respected and influential force in the New York gospel scene, producing not only great vocalists, but top-notch global citizens. At its core, Sing Harlem! serves as both a social impact initiative for young people that have graduated from Mama Foundation’s music training program, and as a commercial choir delivering acclaimed entertainment nationwide. All proceeds from Sing Harlem! events and performances benefit the Mama Foundation for the Arts’ music training programs, which are provided to the Harlem community tuition-free. Sing Harlem! has performed at many prestigious venues, programs, and concerts across America including The Congressional Black Caucus, The Stellar Awards, New York Fashion Week (TOMMYxZENDAYA), The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Lincoln Center, the US Open, Chicago’s Ravinia Festival, and Brooklyn’s Afropunk. Television performances include The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Saturday Night Live, The View, Good Morning America, VH1 Trailblazer Honors, and the Grammy Awards. Theatrical performances include The Let Go (Nick Cave), The Mile-Long Opera (David Lang, Liz Diller), and As You Like It (Public Theater, Public Works). In addition to headlining, Sing Harlem continues to accompany a variety of musical artists including SZA, Sting, Arianna Grande, Pharrell Williams, Alessia Cara, Lykke Li, Chance the Rapper, and Madonna.

Terrance McKnight

Terrance McKnight

Terrance McKnight


Terrance is the author of “Concert Black,” anticipating a 2023 release by Abrams Press. Also in the 2022-23 season, he hosts diverse evenings of music that celebrate the centennial of New York’s Town Hall. These productions include Laura Kaminsky’s opera “Hometown to the World,” “Pioneering Black Voices in Opera” and a tribute to gospel singer Twinkie Clark. His latest creative project, Langston & Beethoven: Black & Proud, will be produced at Lincoln Center’s Sidewalk Studio during February 2023, and he lends his voice as narrator in Peter & the Wolf for two performances with the Park Avenue Chamber Symphony at New York’s DiMenna Center for Classical Music.

McKnight is the weekday evening host for WQXR, New York’s only all-classical music station. In association with the station, his production company Concert Black LLC launches a podcast series in February 2023. The first topic, representations of blackness in opera, will be captured in 16 weekly episodes and distilled into 4-one hour radio documentaries

McKnight is a member of the Artistic Council, with Claire Chase and conductor Robert Spano, for The Hermitage Artist Retreat in Florida, serves on the board of MacDowell and is the Artistic Advisor for the Harlem Chamber Players. He has participated on panels for Chamber Music America, the Mellon Foundation, American Opera Projects, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, ASCAP and the New York State Council on the Arts. 

More Events

Sun, Jan 15 | 5:00 PM EST | Apollo Digital Stage Sun, Jan 15 | 5:00 PM EST

Apollo Young Producers Presents: Young Changemakers

Watch on the Apollo Digital Stage, a virtual event celebrating Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the National Day of Service. Curated by the...

Learn More