New York State’s Tribute to the Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to be Aired on PBS on Monday, January 18


RoAnn Destito, Office of General Services Commissioner, today announced that New York State’s annual commemoration of the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. will be presented as a statewide broadcast event, “New York State Celebrates Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: Civil Rights Then and Now,” airing Monday, January 18 on PBS stations throughout New York and streaming at empirestateplaza.ny.gov/nyking.

The one-hour tribute to Dr. King will showcase some of the people and organizations across New York State that embody the principles of one of America’s most significant leaders for social justice, freedom, and equality. Program times will vary by region, and viewers are encouraged to check their local TV listings.

“OGS is honored to partner with PBS/WMHT to celebrate our nation’s most important civil rights leader in this exciting new format,” Commissioner Destito said. “Following a year filled with challenging times, I am proud to continue the New York State tradition of celebrating Dr. King’s birthday and sharing inspiring stories of New Yorkers who exemplify his legacy by making a difference in their communities.”

“WMHT is honored to be a part of this innovative effort to bring the Dr. Martin Luther King celebration to audiences across the state, over the air and online,” said Robert Altman, WMHT President and CEO. “We in public radio and television embrace the values championed by Dr. King and are thrilled of our partnership with the State of New York on this important and timely project.”

Hosted by the Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson, this year’s program will take viewers on a virtual tour across New York State.

Richardson is the senior pastor of the historic Grace Baptist Church in Mount Vernon, Westchester County, a vibrant and diverse ministry he has led since 1975. A member of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Board of Preachers at Morehouse College in Atlanta since 1989, he was inducted into its International Hall of Honor in 2013 for making significant contributions to the global nonviolent movement for civil and human rights. Richardson is also a member of Governor Cuomo’s COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution and Implementation Task Force, which works to ensure the equitable distribution of the vaccine across the state.

Through the eyes of New Yorkers from Buffalo to Albany, Lake Placid to New York City, the program will focus on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life and dreams with music, art, and inspiring stories that reflect the fight for civil rights then and now across the state.

Some of the show’s highlights include:

  • A special Martin Luther King, Jr. Day message from New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo.
  • A profile of New York native Franklin H. Williams, a distinguished attorney, statesman, civil rights leader, and assistant to Thurgood Marshall, who spent much of his life combatting racial injustices in the courts and schools.
  • Performances of inspirational and historic songs by choirs and performers from across the state, including the Mama Foundation for the Arts from Harlem, the 2021 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Ensemble from the Capital Region, and students from the State University of New York.
  • A look back at Dr. King’s 1961 sermon to the congregation of the historic Wilborn Temple in Albany.
  • A Tribute to John Lewis, a major force in the Civil Rights Movements who was a key organizer of the 1963 March on Washington and served the people of Georgia in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1987 until his death in 2020.

Everyone is invited to tune in to learn more about New Yorkers leading the way toward social justice as we highlight the movement for social change throughout our state’s history.

In addition to the performances, people are invited to view the New York State Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Student Art and Essay Exhibition, which features submissions from K-12 students throughout the state that are inspired by Dr. King’s Six Principles of Nonviolence. The virtual gallery will be available for viewing at  empirestateplaza.ny.gov/nyking from January 18 to February 28.

Also, several service-related programs are held each year by New York State to fulfill Dr. King’s vision of community. These include the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Statewide Food Drive, held December 11, 2020 to February 12, 2021 and the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Statewide Book Drive, held February 22 to April 23, 2021.

In addition to viewing options on PBS, “New York State Celebrates Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: Civil Rights Then and Now” will be available for viewing beginning at 10 a.m. on January 18 at empirestateplaza.ny.gov/nyking.

For PBS program updates and additional information, please visit empirestateplaza.ny.gov/nyking, and follow @NYSMLK on Facebook and Twitter.