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Buskirk-Chumley Theater celebrates Martin Luther King Jr. Day



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The IU African American Choral Ensemble sings “Oh Happy Day” Jan. 20 at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater. The chorale performed during the Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday Celebration. Sarah Zygmuntowski

Members of the Bloomington community dashed out of the cold and into the Buskirk-Chumley Theater lobby Monday night for the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday Celebration. The auditorium doors opened at 6 p.m. and the attendees were greeted by desserts, a melodic children’s choir and a reminder of the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.

The event included a performance by the Fairview Elementary School Choir, speeches from Monroe County commissioners and a keynote presentation byMelina Abdullah, a Los Angeles chapter leader for Black Lives Matter.

The choir sang and danced to songs such as “American Oxygen” by Rihanna.

“Every breath I breathe, chasin’ this American Dream,” the fourth through sixth graders sang. “We sweat for a nickel and a dime. Turn it into an empire.”

During his speech, Bloomington Mayor John Hamilton said the community should revisit King’s words during the holiday.

“We need the still sound of echoes of so many inspiring words,” Hamilton said.

The IU African American Choral Ensemble sang “Oh Happy Day” by Aretha Franklin and the gospel “I Open My Mouth to The Lord,” and Bryanna Mitchel and Anderson Da Silva, students of the Jacobs School of Music Ballet Department, danced to the song “I Choose Love” by Mark A. Miller.

Keynote speaker Abdullah spoke about the power of speaking up and how King exemplified this idea. It’s important to remember his legacy, Abdullah said.

“Dr. King challenged us to all become part of a long and bitter but beautiful struggle,” Abdullah said. “So this work was not Dr. King’s but this work is the work we inherit in people who inhabit this Earth right here, right now.”

David Hummons was awarded the Martin Luther King Jr. Legacy Award, which recognizes someone that has made contributions to improve race relations and protect human rights.

Hummons, an associate for the MLK Birthday Celebration Commission, won this year’s award because of his work with the commission and his role as the Indiana District Director of Exchange Clubs, Hamilton said. He also has received notable awards such the Office of the Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Multicultural Affairs Distinguished Inclusive Excellence Award.

“This year’s honoree spent nearly fifty years making tangible and meaningful contributions to the advancement of race relations, justice and human rights,” Hamilton said.

The program ended with James Sanders, emcee and chair of the celebration commission, leading the audience in singing “We Shall Overcome.”

“Oh, deep in my heart, I do believe, we shall overcome, some day,” the audience sang. “We’ll walk hand in hand, some day.”

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