The 38th Annual Brooklyn Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

BAM honors Dr. King’s radical spirit at this beloved Brooklyn tradition, which rings in a new year with musical performances and an invigorating call to action. Keynote speaker Reginald Dwayne Betts—a poet, lawyer, and founder and CEO of Freedom Reads—offers reflections on freedom anchored in his own journey, his enduring commitment to social justice, and his work to radically transform access to literature in prison. Featuring uplifting performances by Sing Harlem and singer-songwriter Madison McFerrin, this annual tribute invites us to reflect, recharge, and support one another as we carry on Dr. King’s relentless pursuit of equality and justice.

The celebration continues with a free screening of Rustin at 1pm at BAM Rose Cinemas and family friendly activities presented by BAMkids in The Adam Space.

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Reginald Dwayne Betts

Reginald Dwayne Betts is a poet and lawyer. A 2021 MacArthur Fellow, he is the Founder and CEO of the Freedom Reads, an organization that opens libraries in prisons, transforming cellblocks into Freedom Libraries. For over twenty years, he has used poetry and essays to explore the world of prison and the effects of violence and incarceration on American society. The author of a memoir and three collections of poetry, he transformed his latest poetry collection, the American Book Award-winning Felon, into a solo theater show. In 2019, Betts won a National Magazine Award for his NYT Magazine essay chronicling hisq2-=[]21 He has been awarded a Radcliffe Fellowship from Harvard, a Guggenheim Fellowship, an Emerson Fellow at New America, and a Civil Society Fellow at Aspen. Betts holds a J.D. from Yale Law School.

Sing Harlem

Originally the breakout choir for Mama Foundation for the Arts’ School of Gospel, Jazz, and R&B Arts, this award-winning choir has flourished under the direction of Ahmaya Knoelle Higginson, serving as both a social impact initiative for young alumni and a commercial choir. They have performed at Lincoln Center, the Grammy Awards, and Saturday Night Live—among other destinations—and accompanied artists including Sting, Arianna Grande, and Madonna. All proceeds from their performances benefit the Mama Foundation’s music training programs, which are provided to the Harlem community tuition-free.

Madison McFerrin

Independent artist and musician Madison McFerrin has come into her own, with three self produced EPs and numerous performances and curatorships. Her distinct vocal stylings blend R&B, pop, soul, and jazz. Questlove dubbed her early sound “soul-appella” and AdHoc described her work as “an oasis of serenity.” Madison is often looking towards inner liberation. Whether she is writing about understanding one’s intuition or cyclical violence, she explores how to get free and care for oneself along the way. She works at the intersection of artistry and community building, and has prioritized the work of women and POC in her curatorial tenures at venues like C’mon Everybody, the WNYC Greene Space, and the BRIC Jazz festival. The result is an enduring commitment to finding ways to think better, express ourselves honestly, and nurture a sense of possibility.