Arts and Culture

Monday honors the birthday of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., and the federal holiday created in celebration of his legacy. 

As COVID-19 cases surge in Louisville and around Kentucky, many local events have been moved online, including the showing of a new documentary from Louisville filmmaker and percussionist Joan Brannon. 

Her film, “Fire and Heart: A Blueprint for Liberation,” will stream Monday on the YouTube channel of Lexington’s MLK Holiday Planning Committee

Brannon filmed the racial justice protests in Louisville and Lexington during the late summer and early fall, and spoke with some of the movement’s leaders for the film, such as Louisville poet, author and performer Hannah Drake; Keturah J. Herron from ACLU Kentucky; Louisville Urban League president and CEO Sadiqa Reynolds; Louisville Metro Council member, artist and educator Jecorey Arthur; and Lexington activist Sarah Williams.

“I felt that was an opportunity… first, to honor the legacy and voice of Dr. King, and to truly be able to support the voices of activism currently,” Brannon said. “And then ultimately, to think about how do we heal all this?”

She said working on this film has been a “beautiful experience” because she feels like she’s been able to “contribute more to the movement by supporting these voices and extending them out into the world.” 

“I came into this with a profound appreciation of the people who are doing this work, and I appreciate them even more deeply. [But] it impacts my heart in a way that makes me a little sad. I want more to be happening. I want more to have come from everyday citizens being tear gassed in the downtown of the city that they love,” she said.

There are things that give her and others hope though, she said, such as the Metro passage of “Breonna’s Law” banning search warrants referred to as “no-knock” warrants, as well as the U.S. Senate primary campaign run by former State Rep. Charles Booker. 

“I really hope people will watch this film with an open mind and an open heart and see the greatness in the people who are telling these stories, who are truly sacrificing themselves for their people, for all people,” she said.

Other local events commemorating the day include: 

  • University of Louisville’s African American Theatre Program presents a pre-recorded online event featuring speakers Hannah Drake and Shameka Parrish-Wright. It will be posted to YouTube and Facebook on Monday. 
  • An online workshop for Kentucky educators on Monday hosted by Thomas D. Clark Foundation. Registration here.
  • The Archdiocese of Louisville’s Office of Multicultural Ministry will hold a limited-capacity in-person prayer service at Cathedral of the Assumption on Monday that will also be live-streamed.
  • On Saturday, Commonwealth Theatre Center will present “Nation In Crisis,” an interactive virtual show written and directed by Louisville actor and playwright Keith McGill and performed by Jacqui Blue.
  • The town of Lexington will commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. Day with a full-day of events, many of which will be available virtually. More here.
Stephanie Wolf is WFPL's Arts Reporter.