Several arts-oriented events will be held in conjunction with the city of Denver’s 38th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Marade on Monday. The main event begins at 10:30 a.m. at the MLK “I Have a Dream” monument in Denver’s City Park. The Marade march begins at 10:45 a.m. and heads west along Colfax Avenue until it reaches Civic Center Park, where a full program of events starts at 1 p.m. The 2023 Marade theme is “Strength Through Justice.”
Also on Monday, the RedLine Contemporary Art Center will present choreographer, performance artist and activist Helanius J. Wilkins in conversation with Atlanta-based writer and Black power advocate John Burl Smith from 4-6 p.m. at 2350 Arapahoe St. Wilkins is the curator of a multi-year, multimedia dance work that confronts and celebrates heritage, resiliency, justice and hope. At the onset of COVID, Wilkins made a practice of walking solo for up to 16 miles a day to call attention to incidents of police brutality. His resulting dance project “imagines choreography as quilt-making to unlearn fear and interrupt the disturbing tragic turns of inhumanity,” he said.
Having made this work, he added, “I am less afraid to walk.”
Smith, who knew King personally, said the conversation with Wilkins will traverse themes of diversity, equity, inclusion, social activism and blurring the lines between art and social justice — otherwise known as “artivism.”
The event is free. RSVP at redlineart.org. It also be streamed live on RedLine’s Instagram and Facebook.
• The Denver Chess Club is hosting the 2023 national “Tribute to MLK” chess tournament on Saturday and Sunday at the Aurora Central Library, 14949 E. Alameda Parkway. Matches begin at 10 a.m. both days. Dozens of players from across the nation are signed up, including three distinguished Grand Masters. Free to attend and watch.
• On Sunday, admission to MCA Denver is only a penny for its first-ever deep-dive exhibition “The Dirty South,” which explores the legacies and traditions of Black culture in the South through a contemporary lens. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. at 1485 Delgany St. The R&B and hip-hop radio station The Drop 104.7 will broadcast live from the museum starting at noon.
• In Boulder, the Haula Community Organization will honor the life of King from 1-4 p.m. Saturday at the Meadows Branch Library, 4800 Baseline Road with a program including traditional songs and dance from the South Sudanese Church Choirs. On Sunday, a program of music, dance and spoken word will take place at 4 p.m. at the Jewish Community Center, 6007 Oreg Ave. in Boulder. The keynote speaker is Dr. Reiland Rabaka, founder and director of the Center for African and African American Studies at the University of Colorado Boulder. Music by the Spirituals Project.
• At 2 p.m. Monday, Boulder’s non-profit Motus Theater will host an arts-based, family friendly program at the Dairy Arts Center including music by The ReMINDers, Chicago monologist Colette Payne (director at the Women’s Justice Institute) and reflections from Rabaka on what “radical” meant to King.
“This performance is going to get at the transformative root of Dr. King Jr.’s message,” said Motus founder Kirsten Wilson.
Payne will share the impact that incarceration has had on her life.
“You like to say the story is about crime or drug addiction, when the story is about poverty,” she said. “And the story of poverty in the Black, brown and indigenous communities is directly related to the history of slavery, genocide, Black Codes, Jim Crow and all the redlining laws of the government that pushed us into the projects instead of homes in the suburbs. This story is about you, America, not me.”
The event is free. Reserve your seat at thedairy.org
• On Tuesday, Glenda Strong Robinson of Longmont received the Menola Upshaw Lifetime Achievement Award from the 2023 MLK Colorado Holiday Commission at a celebratory concert by the Colorado Symphony at Boettcher Concert Hall. The annual award goes to a person who actively helps to make the world a better place. Robinson, who has been offering MLK-related educational programs throughout Boulder County since the early 1990s, said, “We do this by using our differences to make a difference.”
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