Huss Project to host screening for MLK Day in Three Rivers

The life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. will be celebrated and honored across the country on Monday, January 16 in observance of the federal holiday named after the civil rights activist and faith leader. In lieu of Three Rivers’ annual Solidarity in Diversity event, which will not take place this year, *culture is not optional and the Huss Project (1008 8th St.) will host a screening of two episodes of “Eyes on the Prize: America’s Civil Rights Movement” beginning at 4 p.m. Monday.

“When we realized that the usual MLK Day Celebration wasn’t materializing this year, we still wanted to do something to highlight the extraordinary life of America’s most prominent and effective public theologian,” *culture is not optional Executive Director Rob Vander Giessen-Reitsma said. 

“Dr. King’s radical call to nonviolence, to loving our neighbors and our enemies, to eliminating poverty, and to creating a world without the horrors of war are still poignantly relevant and challenging today. Listening to his voice and the voices of others in the movement—beyond the one famous line in the one famous speech—is good, important work if we are to learn from those who have gone before us and not simply repeat the injustices of our ancestors.”

The synopsis for each of the episodes are as follows:

No Easy Walk (1961-1963), 4 p.m.

The civil rights movement discovers the power of mass demonstrations as the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. emerges as its most visible leader. Some demonstrations succeed; others fail. But the triumphant March on Washington, D.C., under King’s leadership, shows a mounting national support for civil rights. President John F. Kennedy proposes the Civil Rights Act.

Bridge to Freedom (1965), 5 p.m.

A decade of lessons is applied in the climactic and bloody march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. A major victory is won when the federal Voting Rights Bill passes, but civil rights leaders know they have new challenges ahead.

“The first several episodes of ‘Eyes on the Prize’ were produced in 1986,” Vander Giessen-Reitsma said. “What this means is that we get to hear from eyewitnesses to the events less than 30 years after they happened. These voices and the stories they tell are invaluable to hear firsthand, giving us a more robust understanding of the movement and its implications for today.”

Vander Giessen-Reitsma added that the screening serves a myriad of purposes, simultaneously honoring Dr. King and the thousands of men and women who played critical roles in making the work spearheaded by King possible.

“We’re showing these episodes of the PBS documentary series ‘Eyes on the Prize’ to honor and to be challenged by the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., while also acknowledging the entire community and network of people surrounding him that made his work possible,” he said. “The March on Washington in 1963 doesn’t happen without thousands of volunteers around the country, organizing bus trips, making sandwiches, arranging accommodations, and all of the other mundane things that provide the foundation for the movement. These are the everyday folks that Dr. King galvanized to action, creating within them a longing for the Beloved Community.”

To learn more about the “Eyes on the Prize” series, visit the PBS website.

Alek Haak-Frost is executive editor and publisher of Watershed Voice.