ABOUT THIS PROGRAM

"The time is always right to do what's right."
- Martin Luther King, Jr.

Bring the family and celebrate the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. at the Gantt Center on Monday, January 21. We'll open at 9:00 AM and explore issues of economic equity with panel discussions, art-making workshops, guided tours, film screenings and more.

Program Schedule

9:00 AM - 10:00 AM
Film: Our Friend, Martin (Rated G)

In this family friendly film two friends travel through time, meeting Dr. King at several points during his life. This 60-minute animated film is rated G for general audiences. Arrive early for this annual favorite. Seating is limited.

9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Exhibition galleries open

9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Drop-in art-making activity

10:00 AM - 11:00 AM
Performance by Mary D. Williams

Singer, Educator, and Historian Mary D. Williams brings a wealth of knowledge and deep soul sounds that stir the spirit and enlighten the mind. Join Ms. Williams as she takes us on a musical journey through African-American culture and history. Ms. William weaves stories and songs from field songs and spirituals to hymns and freedoms songs.

11:00 AM - 12:00 Noon
Youth panel led by Gantt Center Equity Ambassadors

11:00 AM - 12:00 Noon
Film: Our Friend, Martin (Rated G)

11:00 AM - 2:00 PM
Freedom Fighters Screen Printing

As long as paper has been available to the masses, people have used posters to call others to action and to critique those in power. Work with MacFly Fresh to make your own Freedom Fighter posters inspired by the works of activists Muhammad Ali, Patrice Lumumba and, of course, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as you learn the history of political art and screen printing.

Participants are encouraged to bring in their own blank items for printing (i.e., tee shirts, totes, etc.).

11:15 AM - 11:30 AM
Spoken Word Performance by Jay Ward

Jay Ward is a poet and teaching artist from Charlotte, NC, currently ranked 14th in the world for slam poetry and Charlotte's 2016 Poet of the Year. As a program director BreatheInk, he facilitates writing and performance workshops and coaches youth poets attending Brave New Voices each year. Ward has released two full-length compact discs of poetry, published the book Life Power Soul in 2009, spoken at numerous colleges and universities and is certified writing workshop facilitator. He has appeared on Fox News and has opened for Angie Stone and Georgia Me.

11:30 PM - 12:00 Noon
Tour: For Freedoms & What We Ask is Simple

12:00 Noon - 1:00 PM
Town Hall - Community Responses - Economic Mobility, Education & Equity

In connection with our For Freedoms exhibition we have invited members of the community to respond to the work being done to address Charlotte's lack of social and economic mobility. We will explore the question of what equity looks like in our workplaces and our classrooms. Community participants will have the opportunity to share concerns, suggestions, and questions as well as participate in an interactive community art response on the subject of equity. Moderated by Justin Perry, MSW, LCSW, LCAS, founder of Perry Counseling Healing and Recovery PLLC.

Charlotte native Justin Perry, MSW, LCSW, LCAS is the founder of Perry Counseling Healing and Recovery PLLC where he specializes in treating individuals have experienced trauma, and/or are managing mental health and substance use disorders. Perry has provided clinical services at a multitude of mental health and substance use disorder facilities around the greater Charlotte region including Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools. The West Charlotte High School alumnus earned Bachelor of Arts degrees in Psychology and Sociology as well as his Masters in Social Work, all from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He holds leadership positions in numerous organizations including OneMECK, Bruce Irons Camp Fund, Foundation for the Carolinas and the Black Political Caucus. Perry is happily married and is the father of a five-year-old son and two-year-old daughter.

RSVP for this town hall meeting

12:00 Noon - 1:00 PM
Writing & Performance Workshop with Poet Jay Ward

Negotiating a legacy, reimagining a future. In this workshop, we'll use interactive discussions and a guided writing exercise to explore the impact of economic equity on our neighborhoods and beyond. As time permits, a performance workshop will teach practical ways to deliver our words with confidence.

RSVP for this workshop

12:30 PM - 1:00 PM
Guided Tour For Freedoms, What We Ask is Simple, Welcome to Brookhill

1:00 PM - 2:00 PM
Performance by Mary D. Williams

Singer, educator, and historian Mary D. Williams brings a wealth of knowledge and deep soul sounds that stir the spirit and enlighten the mind. Join Ms. Williams as she takes us on a musical journey through African-American culture and history. Ms. William weaves stories and songs from field songs and spirituals to hymns and freedoms songs.

1:30 PM - 4:30 PM
Dear Dr. King - Drop-In Hands-on Art-making

Letter writing and art making inspired by Dr. King and his work.

2:00 PM - 2:45 PM
Guided Tour Welcome to Brookhill

3:00 PM - 3:30 PM
Sycamore Dance Company performance

Sycamore Dance Company reminds us of the freedoms we have and still fight for through this powerful dance performance.

3:30 PM - 5:00 PM
Panel: Economic Equity in North Carolina

Join leaders from the faith, non-profit, and grassroots sectors as we explore the current state of wages, quality of life, and more here in Charlotte.

Ohavia Phillips will moderate the panel. Panelists include Reverend Frederick Robinson of MeckMin, Ashley Hawkins of Raising Wages and Tchernavia Montgomery of Crisis Assistance Ministry.

RSVP for this panel discussion

Hailing from Charlotte, NC, by way of Brooklyn, NY, Ohavia "Oh" Phillips M.S., is one of a kind! Her charisma, infectious personality and warmth make her a favorite in any circle!

Receiving her B.S. from The University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and her M.S. from Walden University, Ohavia is a successful media personality around the city of Charlotte and a thriving talk show host of her YouTube show, The Oh Show.

Her experience and love for people has led her to be a highly demanded speaker across multiple platforms.

Reverend Fredrick Robinson joined MeckMin in December 2016. He is the Associate Pastor of Holy Covenant UCC and is an executive board member of the Charlotte Clergy Coalition for Justice. Rev. Robinson is a graduate of Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary with a Master’s Degree in Religion and Christian Thought. A 2014 Fellow of the Black Theology and Leadership Institute at Princeton Theological Seminary in Princeton, New Jersey, he also graduated with an advanced Master's Degree in March 2018, a Master of Sacred Theology from Chicago Theological Seminary.

Ashley Hawkins is a native of Charlotte, NC and a graduate of West Charlotte High School. She began her career in film and theatre in NC, working behind the scenes on movies and plays, becoming active in the local labor movement after college. She has served as a union organizer, executive board member of the Southern Piedmont Labor Council and is currently working a s a field organizer for Raising Wages NC, a statewide coalition working to raise the minimum wage in North Carolina.

As Chief Program Officer at Crisis Assistance Ministry, Tchernavia Montgomery leads the teams which serves nearly 200 people per day who seek assistance with basic needs including emergency rent or utility payments, clothing, household goods, furniture, beds, and appliances. A licensed clinical social worker, she joined Mecklenburg county’s lead Agency in the fight against poverty in 2018 with 14 years of experience in human services and behavioral health.

In addition to her role at Crisis Assistance Ministry, Montgomery serves as an adjunct faculty member with the UNC-Charlotte School of Public Health Sciences and School of Social Work, serves at Chairperson of the UNC-Charlotte School of Social Work’s Community Advisory Board and as an Executive member of the Charlotte Resilience Project. In 2018, she was state-appointed to the Board of Directors of Cardinal Innovations Healthcare, and awarded an Athena Leadership Award for her excellence in the service profession. Montgomery is a wife, mother and also a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated (Charlotte Alumnae Chapter).

The MLK Day Celebration is proudly sponsored by Food Lion.

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Image credits: The White House photo archive