BAM’s Martin Luther King, Jr. tribute draws visitors — and protesters

BAM’s Martin Luther King, Jr. tribute draws visitors — and protesters
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

“Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. — Come Share the Dream,” read the invitation.

A crop of students and parents from the Academy of Business and Community Development in Bedford-Stuyvesant — whose middle and high schools were abruptly closed by the city last month — did just that as they gathered outside a tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the Brooklyn Academy of Music on Monday, holding up homemade banners that read, “Help save our school, we have a dream, too.”

The protesters shared the spotlight with Mayor Bloomberg, Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott and the other dignitaries and civilians who came to attend the Jan. 16 tribute — the city’s largest — a day after what would have been the Nobel Peace Prize-winning activist’s 83rd birthday.

“As we celebrate his day, I know he’s watching over us and hearing us out,” said one pint-sized protester.

Hizzoner breezed past the chorus of “boos” on his way inside to deliver a glowing speech for the performing arts venue’s 26th annual tribute to King. Deputy Borough President Sandra Chapman was the mistress of ceremonies and Chancellor Walcott delivered the keynote address, but it was the music by the Toshi Reagon and BIG Lovely, and the Institutional Radio Choir from the Church of God in Christ, that added the soul.

Attendees said they were moved by the spectacles that took place both inside and outside.

“It’s a beautiful tribute, but I wonder what Dr. King would say about those kids protesting about their school being closed,” wondered Fort Green visitor Georgia Smith.

The weekend Martin Luther King celebration also featured a screening of “The Black Power Mixtape” (1967—1975) — a film by Swedish journalists documenting the Black Power Movement in the U.S. — at the BAM Rose Cinemas, musical performances by Chanda Rule and MuthaWit at BAMcafé Live, and an art exhibit entitled, “Picture the Dream”.

Reach reporter Shavana Abruzzo at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-2529.