TRAVERSE CITY – Every January in the United States, citizens celebrate the birthday of civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr.
The federal holiday lands on Monday, January 17 — a day to celebrate the teachings and wisdom of a man who believed in equality for all. King’s actual birthday happens to be January 15, and on both days — the actual and the observed — there are celebrations and fundraisers happening locally.
On January 15, Northern Michigan E3 and Right Brain Brewery are hosting the MLK Day Book Fundraiser and Art Market from 4-8 p.m. to help TCAPS Libraries expand their inclusive offering of children’s books to local schools. .
A non-profit organization dedicated to eradicating racism and strengthening racial justice, Northern Michigan E3 is run by BIPOC and is dedicated to bringing about change in its community. By raising funds to purchase inclusive books, E3 members in Northern Michigan said they would be able to help provide all children in the TCAPS school district with the means to discover new perspectives, ideas and origins of various populations and cultures.
“We, and all of our partners, see books as mirrors and windows to the world and to life,” said Brett Sinclair, council coordinator for Northern Michigan E3. “Books allow us to see our experiences of the world validated. And they allowed us to learn to understand, to develop empathy and to become more culturally fluid. In northern Michigan, tourism has been our greatest exposure to the rest of the world. Inclusive books can help with this.
Along with the fundraiser, an art market featuring local black makers and an open-mic event hosted by Marshall Collins, Jr., a Northport native and educator in the Traverse Bay area Middle School District, will take place. This event has no entrance fee and food is available by donation.
Right Brain Brewery owner and operator Russell Springsteen is thrilled to have Collins hosting the open mic and local artists showcasing their wares. More importantly, however, he is optimistic about the good this fundraiser will do.
“Living in a predominantly white community, most of the children’s books in our libraries feature white boys and girls, or purple and blue children, and I think it’s essential to include books about children of color. . We feel fortunate to be able to promote this concept and move our society forward in a more thoughtful way,” Springsteen said.
“My children are and were part of TCAPS, and we discussed the racist comments they heard from other students,” Springsteen added. “As a family and business owners, we would like to be able to approach this subject in a positive way, to be able to educate and discuss.”
On Monday, January 17, Building Bridges with Music will present a collaborative music event in honor of MLK Memorial Day, featuring the Motown Legends Gospel Choir.
This thirteen-piece vocal ensemble includes members of popular bands Motown, The Miracles and The Contours.
The choir will be accompanied by an instrumental quartet, local saxophonist Laurie Sears, NMC Children’s Choir Cantus, NMC Chamber Singers, Kevin Larose on tuba and Joe Wilson on dobro.
The program will focus on spirituals and songs from the Civil Rights era and some favorite Motown hits.
Jeff Haas, Founder and Artistic Director of Building Bridges with Music, presents his award-winning program for 25 years, promoting openness, understanding and respect through the universal language of music. Since 2011, BBWM has produced the annual MLK Remembrance Day event, which fits perfectly with the mission of the organization.
“Martin Luther King, Jr. was a huge inspiration to me growing up,” Haas said. “TC is my hometown, but I’m also a proud native of Detroit, where I was born and raised. My parents were German Jewish immigrants who survived the Holocaust – the issue of civil rights was a frequent topic among us.
So when I first heard an MLK broadcast, its message hit home. His quote, “Only love, understanding, and organized goodwill can cast out fear,” became the cornerstone of Building Bridges with Music. MLK’s teachings are more relevant than ever. »
Jeffrey Cobb, director of music programs at Northwestern Michigan College, also shares Haas’ enthusiasm for the upcoming music event.
“This is such an important event that we are all excited to be part of,” said Cobb. “Whenever Jeff Haas calls you to participate in something, you say yes! He puts his heart and soul into everything he does, and this concert is always meaningful and profound.
Cobb leads the NMC Chamber Singers and co-leads the NMC Children’s Choir with Ashley Larimer-Kelly, Director of Vocal Music at Glen Lake Community Schools, and both groups look forward to participating in this annual concert again.
“The NMC Children’s Choir Cantus has been attending this event for several years, and the NMC Chamber Singers joined the event for the first time in 2020,” Cobb said. “The two bands will combine to perform Oscar Peterson’s ‘Hymn to Freedom’, then the singers will perform a few songs themselves.”
The musical performance also helps kick off NMC’s first week of classes, which will focus on the theme “Embrace the Dream,” highlighting MLK, Jr., the civil rights movement and equality.
And, for the first time, the MLK Remembrance Day concert will be streamed live, providing free viewing worldwide so all can enjoy the performance, thanks to sponsorship from Northwestern Michigan College and MusicHub Live.
The MLK Memorial Day show will take place at 7 p.m. at the City Opera House in downtown Traverse City. Tickets are free but sold out as in-person seating was limited to 50 due to Covid concerns.
The performance will be streamed live at musichub.live/mlk2022nmc.