The student news site of Brookline High School

The Cypress

The student news site of Brookline High School

The Cypress

The student news site of Brookline High School

The Cypress

Coolidge Corner Theater celebrates MLK day

The Coolidge Corner theater celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. and his impact on Jan. 15 through videos, speeches and performances honoring King’s life and legacy.

Brookline celebrated the memory and accomplishments of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with a performance at the Coolidge Corner Theatre on Monday, Jan. 15th.

The event kicked off with an opening speech from the chair of Brookline’s Select Board Bernard Greene, followed by Jennifer Barber, Brookline’s Poet Laureate, who took the stage and read aloud Elizabeth Alexander’s inaugural poem, “Praise Song for the Day.”

Once Barber left the stage, King’s 1964 Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech was played on the big screen. After, Boston University Associate Professor of Religion and African American Studies Margarita Guillory spoke about King and the meaning behind his acceptance speech.

Next, Regie Gibson and the Guy Mendilow Ensemble grabbed their instruments and delivered a heartening performance of slam poetry. Lastly, Greene took the stage once more to give his closing remarks to the one-hour event.

When describing his experience as one of the organizers, Greene said the main goal of the event was to have a one-of-a-kind celebration that would have viewers challenge their views on social justice.

“Social justice is not an easy issue. It has to be addressed thoughtfully because it’s so easy to give people who oppose social justice the tools to fight you,” Greene said. “What we’ve always tried to do is to use the program to get the audience to think outside of what their usual notions of King were.”

Greene said normal people of the Civil Rights movement were both important and impactful.

“People think of Martin Luther King and say, ‘Oh, what a great man,’ but they do that without thinking about who the ordinary people who made him possible are, and that’s really the key,” Greene said. “King talked about the pilots and the ground crews and the people who made possible his movement and helped him receive a Nobel Peace Prize.”

Abigale Reisman, the violinist for the Guy Mendilow Ensemble, said that overall, the whole performance and programming were balanced.

“I thought it was a great balance of different types of talks and getting to hear King’s speech and having people bring it back to today,” Reisman said. “I think there was a good balance of art and reality with all the speeches today.”

Audience member Michael Rubinstein said the event made him take in and consider the challenges people face.

“It gave me a lot to think about in terms of what are the most effective choices we can make towards service,” said Rubinstein. “There are so many challenges that need to be addressed and so many needs to meet, and each of us has a role to play.”

Greene said the most important thing people can take away from the Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration is what King stood for, a symbol of the Civil Rights movement, and who he stood up for.

“I’d like people to think about how, despite the fact that he fought against racism and injustice, he listened to the other side,” said Greene. “Because you got to know why they’re angry, and they have to know why you’re angry. Otherwise, you can’t get anywhere.”

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