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Great Blacks in Wax Museum hosts MLK Celebration Weekend

Stacy M. Brown | 1/15/2016, 6 a.m.
A weekend celebration of the life and legacy of Civil Rights Champion Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. has been planned ...

A weekend celebration of the life and legacy of Civil Rights Champion Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. has been planned at the National Great Blacks in Wax Museum in Baltimore.

Dr. Joanne Martin, the president of the museum located in the 1600 block of East North Avenue, said three days of activities to remember and celebrate King may help younger ones to develop a newfound respect for what the late Civil Rights leader accomplished.

“One of the reasons we include in our theme this year the saying ‘from civil unrest to civil rights and back again’ is that it speaks to a circular movement,” said Dr. Joanne Martin. “When you look at when we came out of the Civil War we were so hopeful, then there was the 13th Amendment, but the nightmare came with Reconstruction and the betrayal by the Supreme Court. So, we have to recognize and respect our ancestors and we thought a full weekend of celebrating Dr. King’s legacy and life was necessary.”

On Saturday, January 16, 2016, the museum begins the King weekend with a concert that features the music of the African Diaspora and the African-American tradition. The 6 p.m. concert will include 11-year-old Elijah Cole.

On Sunday, January 17, the museum will host “The Legal Battleground,” a panel discussion and screening of the movie, “Selma.”

Maryland Democratic Senator Lisa Gladden will lead the discussion that will assist those in attendance in helping to glean insight from the movie about the challenges and the accomplishments of King and other civil rights leaders of his era. The 5 p.m. event will detail how those challenges still confront the nation today through voting rights, economic inequality and a flawed justice system, according to Martin.

The celebration concludes at 9 a.m. Monday, January 18 with “Civil Wrongs to Civil Rights and Back Again,” a Martin Luther King Day breakfast. It will include a performance by Brenda Tucker and a self-guided museum tour.

“With the fight for civil rights, activism developed and it made it possible for blacks to be mayors and to hold other positions,” Martin said.

The Black Lives Matter movement and the unrest that occurred in Baltimore after the death of Freddie Gray last year repeat history, she said.

“I asked a group of students to talk to me about civil rights and they started talking to me about Rosa Parks. I said that was fine but I asked whether they had their rights,” Martin said. “I don’t want them trapped in the past and to only see civil rights as Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King but knowing that they have an obligation to fight against inequality, voter suppression and other wrongs.”

It’s clear that racism remains a problem today, Martin said.

“That Jacksonville Florida School [Nathan B. Forrest High] contained the name of a guy who was grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan and you had our children, all of these black children attending and not knowing that history,” Martin said. “I had a man say that I should close the National Great Blacks in Wax Museum because America has reached an acceptable level of racism and if there was a Great Whites in Wax Museum we’d say it was racist. Well, my response is that generation after generation have gone to museums and still go to museums with icons of whites.”

Educating the masses is necessary in showing respect for King’s legacy, Martin said.

For more information including purchasing tickets for the museum’s King events, visit: www.greatblacksinwax.org.