In 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. wrote a letter from his jail cell in Birmingham, Alabama, which would become a monumental text in the civil rights movement that swept America in the 1960s. Almost 56 years later, the Lyndon House Arts Center is keeping with King’s themes in their annual Visions of MLK event. This year’s theme is “Peaceful Resistance: Letter(s) From a Birmingham Jail.”
Visions of MLK will take place on Jan. 19 as part of the weekend of local celebration. The event invites creatives from around the community to perform art in conjunction with the art on display. Some of the featured performers include gospel group On Fire For God, Kaotic Step Team and poet T-man. The performances will be interspersed with poetic interpretations of the Letter from Birmingham.
“We’re taking MLK’s letter and we have five poets who are each going to take a different part of it and give their take on that part,” said Montu Miller, curator and event coordinator for this year’s event.
There will also be a live-action staging of King composing the famous letter.
Didi Dunphy, the program supervisor at Lyndon House, has been involved in the event for the past four years. Dunphy views it as a way to use art to bring people together to discuss issues the whole community faces.
“Community means that our mission is reaching out with the goal of touching everyone in our area through the means of art,” Dunphy said. “Art is indeed a safe place to experiment, interpret, investigate and a place for difficult conversations.”
This year marks the 12th Visions of MLK, but every year Miller issues the same challenge to the community: “[Have] a conversation with someone you normally wouldn’t have, maybe go to a church service that’s opposite of yours. Just do something different.”