MLK DAY Program @ The Wright Museum FREE
1-4 p.m. Monday, Jan. 19, 2015

Films + panel discussion:
Al Helm (The Dream): Martin Luther King in PalestineA King Among Us

Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History -- General Motors Theater
315 E. Warren Ave., Detroit

FREE ADMISSION; advance registration strongly encouraged.

What would Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. have to say about the recent racial strife in Ferguson, Missouri and New York City? How would his beliefs apply in the longstanding conflict between Palestine and Israel?  

In remembrance of the life and legacy of Dr. King, the Arab American National Museum and the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History are jointly presenting a free afternoon of film and discussion about King’s messages and strategies as they relate to both the African American and Arab American communities in the 21st century.  

The event, 1-4 p.m. Monday, Jan. 19, 2015, at The Wright Museum, 315 E. Warren Ave. in Detroit, includes screenings of The Wright Museum’s biographical film A King Among Us and the 2014 documentary Al Helm (The Dream): Martin Luther King in Palestine, directed by Connie Field and making its southeast Michigan premiere with this presentation. 

In Al Helm (The Dream): Martin Luther King in Palestine, an African American gospel choir is the Greek chorus for a Palestinian play on Martin Luther King which tours the West Bank preaching nonviolence in early 2011. The choir is apprehensive about working with Palestinians whose American media image is that of angry, violent terrorists. For the Palestinian actors, Americans are unconditional supporters of their occupiers. It is a personal and cultural exchange that, over the course of the journey, radically transforms their ideas about each other.   

Happy to finally visit the Holy Land, the choir witnesses life in the occupied Palestinian territories, performs in a unique theater inside a refugee camp run by Juliano Mer-Khamis (at right) using art as an alternative to violence, and meets Fadi Quran, a young leader of a nonviolent movement for justice. At the end of their tour, reality will astonishingly mirror the play on MLK, a man who died for his beliefs. On the very day of the anniversary of MLK’s murder, Juliano Mer-Khamis is assassinated, sending shock waves throughout the country and the world.  

The next day at the final night of the play, the actors perform in the aftermath of his death, articulating their lines with a new and heartrending immediacy. As the choir leaves, King’s legacy lives on, as Fadi Quran and other young Palestinians board ‘settler only’ buses in an act of civil disobedience.  

A panel discussion follows the film screenings
, focusing on issues of community building, community service, and ways to diffuse racial and ethnic tensions. Panelists include Will See, youth coordinator at East Michigan Environmental Action Council; Amanda Ghannam of Kairos USA's board of directors and former Students for Justice in Palestine organizer; Dr. Jeffery D. Robinson, principal at Paul Robeson/Malcolm X Academy and pastor at Mt. Calvary Missionary Baptist Church, both in Detroit; and Zena Ozeir, community activist.


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