Press Release

January 7, 2014

Yale Peabody Museum announces 18th annual MLK celebration in support of Dr. King’s legacy of social and environmental justice

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Legacy of Environmental and Social Justice 2014
Sunday, January 19, 12:00 noon to 4:30 pm
Monday, January 20, 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 pm

Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, 170 Whitney Avenue, New Haven

*Storytelling at New Haven Museum, 114 Whitney Avenue, New Haven


A teen summit, invitational poetry slam, keynote speaker and World Stage performers will highlight the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History’s 18th annual celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday and his vision of environmental and social justice for all, regardless of race or income.

Events and activities will help demonstrate how Dr. King strove to raise awareness about public health concerns and urban environmental issues that disproportionately affect minorities and low-income communities. Local organizations will be on hand to show how environmental justice also entails equal access to relief and community participation in the decisions of government and industry. “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter,” proclaimed Dr. King.

Sunday’s highlights include a presentation by keynote speaker Jacqui Patterson, director of the NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice Program, at 4:00 p.m. entitled “Another Way Is Possible: Forging a Path to Preserving a Sustainable Planet,” and a teen summit, “Sitting at the Table of Equality: Teen Involvement in Food Justice,” from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m.


Sunday also features World Stage performances by Neighborhood Music School Premier Jazz Ensemble, Kouffin Kanecke Company, African Arawak Connection and Hamden Academy of Dance & Music. 


Storytelling on Monday will take place at the New Haven Museum, one block from the Peabody at 114 Whitney Avenue.  Karen Johnson, Joy Donaldson and Waltrina Kirkland Mullins will lead this event.


Monday’s featured event is the Annual Invitational Zannette Lewis Environmental and Social Justice Poetry Slam, an event that brings poets from around the country to compete. Also Monday is the Zannette Lewis Environmental and Social Justice Community Poetry Open Mic, an opportunity for people of all ages to share their original poetry or rap and speak their minds on issues of justice and injustice. Pre-registration is required. 


Monday will also feature more World Stage performances and a participatory drum circle finale led by Michael Mills. World Stage performers include White-Eyed Lizard, Taikoza, Solar Youth Drummers and Brian Jarawa Gray and Friends.


Fresh from winning a national championship and new to the Peabody celebration this year is the New Haven Nation Drill Squad Youth Program that will perform at 3 p.m. on Sunday. Comprising stepping teams and drummers and founded to instill the three Ds—discipline, dedication and determination—the Nation Drill Squad team has won over a dozen national championships. Program founder Doug Bethea, who lost his son to gun violence, says drilling teaches youths to keep their goals in sight and make the right decisions in life. Team member Ronnasia Shepard, a junior at Hillhouse High School, has also lost friends to gun violence and says the drill team helps her focus on productive things.


The two-day event is sponsored by Citizens Bank with support from Subway, Stop & Shop, Yale Office of New Haven and State Affairs and the Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection. We gratefully acknowledge honorary chairs Toni N. Harp, Mayor of New Haven; Martin Looney, State Senator, 11th Senatorial District; Rosa DeLauro, Congresswoman, 3rd Congressional District; and Toni E. Walker, State Representative, 93rd District.


Click here for a schedule of events.