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Picturing a Black Future for 35th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Tribute

BAM’s annual tributary celebration will feature keynote speaker Alicia Garza and a number of artists and activists from Brooklyn and beyond
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Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr. Photo: Supplied

After a traumatic and tumultuous year, Brooklyn-based poet and writer Timothy DuWhite wants to show a brighter future is on the horizon in his tributary performance piece, Black Future. 

DuWhite will be presenting Black Future at BAM's 35th annual tribute to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Jan. 18. The BAM resident artist created the performance piece in collaboration with artist Ashley August specifically for the tribute.

Timothy DuWhite Photo: Supplied

"We're exploring what the future looks like for Black people," DuWhite said. "Especially in the wake of what we experienced in 2020 as it relates to the pandemic and the different political and social uprisings that were happening."

Nationwide, this past year has been difficult, and after the recent presidential election, many are looking towards a more hopeful future; one where a vaccine is in ready supply, masks are unnecessary and senseless violence doesn't occur.

"This piece is basically informing Black folks that we've seen the future and we know that it's going to be bright, impossible and it's worth waiting for," DuWhite said.

The tribute essentially asks the question of whether Dr. King's dreams have been realized, or if we have a long way to go. DuWhite says there is still work that needs to be done, but his piece allows others to imagine themselves in a better world.

"I hope this piece is a vehicle to help them just imagine themselves in the future," DuWhite said. 

"The present time is in your face, so it's difficult to shake what's happening presently. I hope people take this piece as a moment of respite, where they can sit back and imagine beyond this current circumstance."

DuWhite is one of many Black artists and activists that will come together virtually for the tribute to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It will feature a keynote address by activist and author Alicia Garza, and performances by PJ Morton, Tarriona "Tank" Ball, Sing Harlem! and others.

Dr. King imagined a better future for not only his children but the world, and the tribute is an opportunity to reflect on a chaotic year and question what we as a collective have learnt and the various ways that we can work towards building up a viable, safe future.

The tribute will be held virtually on Jan 18, at 11 am. The event is free.