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Identity & Community

Martin Luther King Jr. Event Takes Root in East Liberty

“In the end we remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends.”

According to Joseph Hall, the Kelly Strayhorn Theater (KST) Producing Director, that quote by Martin Luther King Jr. is the inspiration behind this year’s “East Liberty Celebrates Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.” event Monday.

Each year, the theater chooses a theme for the event, and this year’s is “Every Voice Counts, Every Story Matters.”

“We really want to encourage folks that their voice counts and their story matters,” Hall said. “Especially at Kelly Strayhorn Theater where that’s one of our missions to really represent folks who don’t necessarily have their voices heard all the time, specifically in the arts, so this is a great opportunity to do that.”

Some of those voices this year might be younger than expected -- the event’s performances will come from an array of local youth ensembles ranging from 1Hood Media to KST’s own Soundwaves Steelband.

“We think that young voices need to be heard, have relevant things to say,” Hall said. “And this is an opportunity to provide a platform for them, for so many youth in our community who voice concerns, who are doing things to better their own community.”

There will be activity tables set up by organizations that work towards social justice such as the Hear Me project, which enables children to tell their stories using media and technology.

Another participating organization, the North Way Christian Communities, created a project called the “Tree of Voices,” which will be on display in KST’s lobby.

“We’re handing out kind of speech bubbles so they will be branches to the tree, and we’re encouraging folks to put down their dream or their aspiration for their community or something that’s on their mind, and we’ll connect it to the Tree of Voices,” Hall said.

He said Martin Luther King Jr.’s message still resonates today.

“Sharing the history, the knowledge I think helps us all kind of better understand where we are, you know in the world, helps us articulate that,” Hall said. “And really I think a lot of these students are very much away of it, a lot more than we think.”