In songs and speeches, voices help keep MLK’s dream alive

Emory Douglas is a graphic artist who in the 1960s and ’70s used his talents and bold images in the Black Panther Party’s battle against racism.

DanVonique Reed is a Marysville mom who has been singing gospel music with the MLK Celebration Choir since girlhood.

Lee Mun Wah is a Chinese American documentary filmmaker and author whose latest film, “If These Halls Could Talk,” focuses on race issues and diversity on college campuses.

Coming from vastly different worlds, they will join the many voices speaking out for equality, inclusion and justice as our community honors the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

“Dr. King sacrificed his life,” Reed said Friday. “It’s hard work, it’s painful, it’s not pretty at times, but we can’t get tired. I think we’ve become complacent, but it’s our responsibility as a community to speak out.”

At 3 p.m. Jan. 18 at Everett’s Spirit of Grace United Methodist Church, Reed will sing out. As she has since she was 9, she’ll join in the annual Greater Everett Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Celebration as part of the MLK Celebration Choir, which has about 30 members.

The local group has presented annual concerts in King’s honor for many years. Reed is now the celebration committee’s chairwoman. Her children, ages 9, 11 and 12, will be part of a skit at this year’s event.

The celebration theme is “A Purpose to Fulfill: Have You Accepted Your Call?” Its keynote speaker will be Pastor Paul Stoot Sr. of Everett’s Greater Trinity Missionary Baptist Church.

In Lynnwood, visual art will be showcased as Edmonds Community College recognizes King’s legacy. On Thursday — it would have been the slain civil right leader’s 86th birthday — EdCC will present a free lunchtime lecture with Emory Douglas at 12:30 p.m. in the Black Box Theatre, in Mukilteo Hall on campus. An evening event has been canceled.

Douglas, who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, wasn’t available for an interview last week. In an article published on the American Institute of Graphic Arts website, he talked about his role, decades ago, with the now dissolved Black Panther Party. His title was Revolutionary Artist and Minister of Culture.

As art director for The Black Panther, the party’s newspaper, he created powerful images meant to reach those standing up against racism, police brutality and poverty. Today, that artwork evokes the era of the Black Power Movement, which followed the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and ’60s.

At times his pictures and posters showed defiance, even violence, but Douglas also depicted children and others in his community. “They used to buy the paper to look at the art,” he said in the interview, written by Pitchaya Sudbanthad.

Douglas was later a graphic designer for the Sun Reporter Publishing Company in San Francisco. And the book “Black Panther: The Revolutionary Artwork of Emory Douglas,” by Douglas and Sam Durant, was published in 2007. His art is represented at the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, where King was assassinated.

Everett Community College also plans a public event focused on diversity. At 5:30 p.m. Jan. 20, a day after the holiday honoring King, EvCC will host a showing of the documentary film “If These Halls Could Talk.” Lee Mun Wah will be there to discuss his film and college students’ experiences with race and diversity.

He is also the author of “Let’s Get Real: What People of Color Can’t Say &Whites Can’t Ask About Racism.” His message is that it’s not up to a leader to bring people together, but that each of us can stand up to inequality by setting aside fears and embracing differences.

There is no denying the past year’s news. They didn’t happen here, but we can’t ignore issues raised by high-profile police killings of black men and boys in Ferguson, Missouri, Staten Island, New York, and two places in Ohio, or the aftermath of those events.

Frank and frequent discussions of racism, a painful part of our country’s legacy, are needed now as much as ever. February, Black History Month, will bring more focus on past events and present hopes.

The city of Everett’s annual Prodigies for Peace essay contest will be held again. Writers of winning essays will be recognized at a Feb. 25 meeting of the NAACP Snohomish County Branch at Everett’s Carl Gipson Senior Center, according to Meghan Pembroke, the city’s spokeswoman. And Humanities Washington speaker Eva Abram will present a talk, “Defeating Racism Today: What Does It Take?” on Feb. 28 at the Mukilteo Library,

“Dr. King and many others paved the way,” Reed said. “We have a responsibility, or we will remain stagnant. Each one of us fulfilling our purpose is living up to the dream.”

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; jmuhlstein@heraldnet.com.

MLK events

Thursday, 12:30 p.m.: Edmonds Community College will host Emory Douglas, an artist and former minister of culture for the Black Panther Party, for a free lunchtime lecture in the Black Box Theatre on campus. (Evening event Thursday canceled.) His topic is “Painting ‘The World House.’” Black Box Theatre is in Mukilteo Hall, 20310 68th Ave, W., Lynnwood. www.edcc.edu/equityandinclusion/get-connected/mlk-events.html

Jan. 18, 3 p.m.: The Greater Everett Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Celebration will be held at Spirit of Grace United Methodist Church, 3530 Colby Ave., Everett. Features gospel music from the MLK Celebration Choir, a children’s skit, and a keynote speech by Pastor Paul Stoot Sr. of Greater Trinity Missionary Baptist Church. www.spiritofgraceumc.org/pageEvents

Jan. 20, 5:30 p.m.: Everett Community College will show the film “If These Halls Could Talk” in its Jackson Center Auditorium. The 6 p.m. showing will be preceded by a reception with refreshments. A discussion with Lee Mun Wah, the documentary’s producer and director, will follow the film. EvCC is at 2000 Tower St. www.everettcc.edu/students/sa/programs-board/event/leemunwah

Feb. 28, 11 a.m.: The Mukilteo Library, 4675 Harbour Pointe Blvd., presents actress and storyteller Eva Abram, from Humanities Washington, in a talk titled “Defeating Racism Today: What Does It Take?”

www.humanities.org/programs/speakers/current-speakers/eva_abram

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