2017 MLK Commemoration to Highlight Art and Activism

Jan. 15 keynote by Phil Freelon, principal architect of the National Museum of African American History & Culture

Phil Freelon, the principal architect of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History & Culture, will deliver the keynote address for Duke University’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. commemoration on Sunday, Jan. 15.

Duke community members and the public are invited to the annual service, which will link King’s civil rights legacy to activism in the arts and architecture. The service starts at 3 p.m. in Duke University Chapel, and free parking is available in the Bryan Center Parking Garage (see map at http://myatlascms.com/map/?id=21&mrkIid=39570).

Freelon, who is from Durham, will talk about the museum’s connection to King’s legacy and will show dramatic slides related to the design of the museum. He will also reflect on the contributions of Julian Abele, the African-American architect of Duke University’s original campus.

Freelon, who was profiled by NBC News before the museum’s opening in September, will be introduced by Richard Powell, the John Spencer Bassett Professor of Art and Art History at Duke and a member of the Scholarly Advisory Committee of the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

“We thought it was timely to honor Martin Luther King, Jr. in the context of this important museum opening and the role that art has had in activism around issues of race and gender equity and LGBTQ issues,” said Benjamin Reese Jr., vice president of the Duke Office for Institutional Equity.

Constructed on the last available building site on the National Mall in Washington, the new museum is the nation's primary home for exhibiting and celebrating African-American achievements in art, history and culture.

Additional campus events include a jazz concert featuring Dee Dee Bridgewater on Jan. 14 and a special Rubenstein Library display on Jan. 12 of West Campus architectural drawings by Abele.