Local and state officials donned their best to take in Brooklyn’s annual tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Brooklyn Academy of Music hosted its annual tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on Jan. 16, at the Howard Gilman Opera House.

The 37th annual event, presented by BAM and Brooklyn Borough president Antonio Reynoso, is a beloved Brooklyn tradition. 

This year’s tribute included a keynote speech by Sherrilyn Ifill.

Ifill is a civil rights lawyer and former president and director-counsel of the NAACP legal defense and educational fund. 

The MLK tribute also featured music performances by Grammy-nominated singer, songwriter and activist Allison Russell, as well as the award-winning Sing Harlem choir. 

State and city officials addressed the crowd throughout the tribute, including:

  • Governor Kathy Hochul
  • Mayor Eric Adams
  • Brooklyn Borough president Antonio Reynoso
  • Congressman Hakeem Jeffries
  • Senator Charles Schumer
  • Council member Crystal Hudson
  • Speaker Adrienne Adams
  • District attorney Eric Gonzalez
  • Commissioner of Cultural Affairs for the City of New York Laurie Cumbo

BAM president Gina Duncan and BAM VP of Creative Social Impact Coco Killingsworth also spoke at the event.

New programs were added to this year’s tribute, including a complementary BAMkids Celebrate MLK program: Courage Takes Creativity. The program features music, dance, and craft activities throughout the day. 

The celebration also includes a digital billboard-based group exhibition on the corner of Flatbush and Lafayette avenues.

The exhibition titled “Freedom!” features work by seven Black visual artists. The public art pays homage to MLK and encourages viewers to reflect on the questions: What is freedom to you? How can we think about freedom from a broader perspective?

The exhibition runs through Jan. 20. For additional information, click here.

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