NYC remembers Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with performances, honors

ByChantee Lans, Eyewitness News WABC logo
Monday, January 17, 2022
NYC remembers Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Chantee Lans reports on the city's MLK Day observances, including the 36th annual celebration at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN (WABC) -- The Brooklyn Academy of Music hosted its annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day celebration Monday.

It's their 36th year, and there were live performances, guest speakers and more.

NY Senator Chuck Schumer, NY Governor Kathy Hochul and NYC Mayor Eric Adams were among those addressing the crowd.

The event is billed as one of the largest MLK Day celebrations in the country.

Meanwhile, the NAACP honored Dr. Emil Naclerio in Manhattan.

Dr. Naclerio saved Dr. King's life inside Harlem Hospital in 1958 after the civil rights pioneer was stabbed with a letter opener during a book signing in Harlem.

Dr. Naclerio, who was a surgeon, removed the blade.

Meantime, from some of the tiniest voices to the more mature fifth graders, kids at The Children's Workshop School are accustomed to celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The school, which opened on the Lower East Side in 1993, teaches social activism and equity.

Its mission surrounds Dr. King's "I have a dream" speech.

"It means a lot because a lot of my family is people of color and it helps me understand it better," said Melina Martinez, a 5th grader.

Melina's class celebrated MLK Day by reciting a poem written by Amanda Gorman.

"It's about change," she said.

First and second graders sang "Black Bird," by Paul McCartney, highlighting racial tension in America.

"It made me feel sad and happy. Happy because Paul McCartney was expressing his feelings, but sad because black people weren't being treated properly," said Joon Lee, a student.

Normally, the audience would be filled with families but because of COVID, the school had to readjust.

Before COVID, students took trips to Washington, DC to meet Congressman John Lewis.

The school's mission also aims to make MLK proud.

"I think he would be ecstatic. Hand in hand, it's not a cliché. It's what we have here every day," said Jean Finnerty, Co-founder, The Children's Workshop School.

As we celebrate the legacy of Dr. King, there's a renewed push to protect voting rights.

A debate in the Senate is scheduled for Tuesday.

Democrats are trying to rally support for legislation that would restore access to voting.

The bill, called the Freedom to Vote Act, would expand voter registration, designate Election Day as a federal holiday, establish protections against gerrymandering, and restore voting rights to formerly incarcerated americans.

It's a vote all but certain to fail.

Since the 2020 elections, 19 states passed 34 laws, restricting access to voting.

Arizona is one of them.

In the spirit of his father, Martin Luther King III led a rally in Phoenix over the weekend.

"It has never been done totally correct. In the sense that we had to do it initially as an act. And acts have to be reinstated over and over again. I think that's why Congress has designed actual laws that will make it sustainable," King III said. "It is said that the people that do not remember their history are doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past."

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