The UA observes Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday, Jan.16, but that does not mean you have to wait until then to celebrate.
While Tucson has had multiple ways to celebrate the life and impact of Martin Luther King Jr., this year UA will celebrate in a new way.
On Sunday, Jan. 15 at 3. p.m., UA and the Tucson community can celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day with a free concert in Centennial Hall's auditorium.
This concert came to fruition thanks to the help of many UA programs including UA Presents, College of Fine Arts, UA Poetry Center, College of Humanities and the College of Humanities Africana Studies. The concert will open with the kids of the Ocotillo Early Learning Center and then continue with performances by a Martin Luther King Jr. choir put together by the Southwest Soul Circuit along with the UA School of Theatre, Film and Television.
Whether it is music, art or crafts, this event gives many Tucson citizens an opportunity to showcase their talents while paying homage to King.
UA Presents director of programming Candace Feldman played an integral role in bringing this event to Tucson as curator of the MLK Celebration Organizing Committee with co-curator Kevin Byrne, assistant professor in the School of Theatre, Film and Television.
“After talking to people and realizing it was something that people did want in May of 2016, we had community meetings," Feldman said. “We brought together artists from the community and members of staff from throughout the campus to see if we need a celebration. It was unanimous.”
On May 18, 2016, UA Presents and the Dunbar Project held a community meeting to discuss potential ways to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 2017. Feldman said she realized the idea of a Martin Luther King Day celebration was extremely popular, and it gained enough steam to become a reality.
“Personally, for me as an artist, I grew up going to MLK events, where artists created rhetoric based off of what MLK stood for,” Feldman said. “When you see people creating music, art and crafting based off of words and to see it celebrated year after year is fitting.”
Feldman said she believes this kind of event can bring a community together.
“I feel like arts can be a conjugate for conversation and be a conjugate for community,” Feldman said. "And giving the artists the platform to express his legacy through his art form."
Feldman also said she believes putting this event together is a way to pay dues.
“As a woman of color, I have a responsibility to do that because I would not be able to vote and do things that I can do,” Feldman said. “It is just fulfilling the charge that I feel is placed on me.”
Feldman said she is an advocate for King's "idea of a beloved community," and she thinks Tucson has what it needs for a beloved community.
“If you care about your community, humanity and people, you should definitely come out to celebrate one of the most prolific leaders for human rights,” Feldman said.