Press Release

Apollo Theater and WNYC Present "MLK and the Fierce Urgency of Now!"

Event Date: 
18 January 2021
Harlem, NY
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Special Radio Edition of WNYC’s 15th Annual MLK Celebration to Air Nationally on Monday, January 18, on The Takeaway

As New York City’s performance spaces remain dark, the Apollo Theater and WNYC are bringing a special edition of the annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration, presented as part of the Apollo Theater’s Uptown Hall Series, to the national airwaves and digitally via Facebook live. 

This year’s presentation, “MLK and the Fierce Urgency of Now!” will air on The Takeaway — the national news program from WNYC and PRX — on Monday, January 18, 3-4pm ET on WNYC 93.9 FM and on 270 additional radio stations across the country (check local listings). The special broadcast will be co-hosted by the event’s signature hosts — WNYC’s public affairs host Brian Lehrer and Senior Editor of WNYC’s Race and Justice Unit Jami Floyd — who will be joined by Tanzina Vega, host of The Takeaway. It will also be shared as a video simulcast on Facebook Live at 3pm ET on the Apollo Theater and WNYC Facebook pages. The video version of the program will include introductions from Jonelle Procope, President and CEO of the Apollo Theater; Goli Sheikholeslami, President and CEO of New York Public Radio; and Isisara Bey, Artistic Director of the March on Washington Film Festival. The recording will also be available following the simulcast on the Apollo’s Digital Stage.

MLK and the Fierce Urgency of Now!” convenes an impressive roster of civil rights leaders, elected officials, activists, journalists, and artists to engage with Dr. King’s teachings and philosophies, and incorporate them into present-day social justice movements. Guests will discuss the pressing priorities facing the incoming Biden/Harris administration, strategies to remove barriers to health equity for Black Americans, and what comes next in our nation’s ongoing fight against systemic racism. 

Featured guests include:

  • Congressman James E. Clyburn, Civil Rights activist and Co-Founder of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee
  • Reverend Dr. William Barber, II, President of Repairers of the Breach and Co-Chair of The Poor People’s Campaign
  • Dr. Bernard Lafayette, Jr., Civil Rights activist and Co-Founder of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee
  • Nikole Hannah-Jones, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and creator of The New York Times’ 1619 Project
  • Letitia Jones, Attorney General for the State of New York 
  • Dr. Uche Blackstock, Yahoo! News Medical Contributor and Founder & CEO of Advancing Health Equity
  • Dr. Jeff Gardere, Associate Professor of Behavioral Medicine at Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine
  • Queen Afua, Five-time best-selling author and CEO of the Queen Afua Wellness Center
  • Leslé Honoré, Blaxican artist and activist, who will read from her book of poems Fist & Fire

“I’m thrilled that we are continuing our partnership with WNYC to bring people together to hear from some of today’s most poignant leaders, activists, journalists, and scholars reflecting on Dr. King’s legacy and the urgent need to continue to fight for safety, dignity, and justice,” said Jonelle Procope, Apollo Theater President and CEO. “The Apollo has long been committed to supporting Black voices and creating spaces for artists and audiences to express themselves freely, and the annual MLK Celebration has been one of the hallmarks of our programming.” 

“I’m so proud that this year marks WNYC’s 15th anniversary of bringing New Yorkers vital conversations about race and justice on Dr. King’s birthday,” said Brenda Williams-Butts, Senior Vice President, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at New York Public Radio and Co-Founder of WNYC’s annual Martin Luther King, Jr. event. “We founded this event to provide a place to celebrate his life, but also discuss the serious work still at hand. Fifteen years later — as a new administration, whose victory owes much to Black voters, prepares to take control in the wake of a far-right insurrection on the Capitol — 'the fierce urgency of now’ has taken on even more profound resonance.”

“We’re excited to partner with the Apollo to bring our annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. event to the national airwaves at a moment when we so deeply need to channel his legacy, leadership, and lessons,” said Goli Sheikholeslami, President and CEO, New York Public Radio. “WNYC’s mission is to convene conversation and community around the critical issues of the day, and we’re honored to bring our listeners the voices of so many respected leaders and changemakers at this inflection point in America’s democracy.”

Presented in collaboration with the March on Washington Film Festival

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Courtesy of the Apollo Theater

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