East Liberty’s Kelly Strayhorn Theater (KST) hosted its 6th annual East Liberty Celebrates MLK Day celebration Monday, complete with live performances, children’s activities, and community outreach groups to honor Martin Luther King, Jr. and his message.
KST Executive Director janera solomon says she has watched the pay-what-you-can event grow since its inception.
“Each year it gets bigger and bigger, not only in terms of the number of folks who attend but also the partnerships,” solomon said. “So we’re really excited this year to have so many East Liberty-based organizations participating in the day.”
Several partner organizations set up tables in the foyer, including Assemble non-profit arts group, BikePGH, and Big Brothers Big Sisters.
Tom Baker, Chief Community Affairs Officer for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Pittsburgh, said he was glad to have the opportunity to meet young people in the community who might be inspired by King.
“His message of just believing that you can do bigger, better things and can achieve big goals in your life—that’s something that I think really resonates with not just our 1,300 littles but a lot of our bigs as well too,” Baker said.
Assemble and local art project Color Me Pittsburgh teamed up to create an interactive art project where kids and adults could draw and color a picture of their neighborhood, then pose with it in front of a map of Pittsburgh. They could also put stickers on the map to show where they lived.
“The purpose of Color Me Pittsburgh is to showcase the diversity of the city of Pittsburgh, promote social justice, and have people share what they love about their neighborhoods and their visions for their neighborhoods in the city,” said Jess Gold, Youth Program Coordinator at Assemble.
1Hood, Soundwaves Steelband, Lighthouse Project, Dreams of Hope, Hope Academy, and Trevor C. Dance Collective took the stage to provide music and dance entertainment. Most of the performers had a message that accompanied their performance.
According to musician and member Idasa Tariq, 1Hood is a media group that uses music and other types of communication to give youth a voice for self-experssion.
“We’re all here today, all different races, all different ethnicities, all different genders, everybody is here under one roof talking about the same thing, standing united against all the issues we have in this world,” Tariq said.
Other Martin Luther King, Jr. Day celebrations in Pittsburgh included a free day at Carnegie Science Center with special conservation programs, a hands-on workshops at The Mattress Factory, and special performances at The Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh.