History behind the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial in New York State

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ALBANY, NY (WENY) — Since 2004, New York’s state capitol celebrates the life of Martin Luther King Jr. through an artistic program and community initiatives including a volunteer fair, a children’s art gallery and book and food drives.

Office of General Services Commissioner Jeanette Moy said it is an honor to share Martin Luther King’s memory, through a partnership with PBS and the state education department.

“His impact on our communities, on our families, on the way that we learn, those that we interact with, what our day-to-day civic life looks like is really profound,” Moy said.

The artistic program includes art, dance, and spoken word performances. The program was held in person in the empire state plaza for 16 years. Then when the pandemic hit in 2020, the program was re-imagined and made into a statewide PBS broadcast in 2021.

Moy said the broadcast helps the program reach people statewide. They plan to continue the virtual memorial, but this year they had their first in-person event in three years–a red carpet premiere previewing the broadcast.

And in addition to the performance, every year, the office of general services runs a statewide book drive starting on Feb. 20 and ending on April 21. This years theme is multiculturalism.

“All books are great, and I think that was part of the emphasis that Dr. King had for all of us is that you need to begin with literacy, with education, with a strong sense of community,” Moy said.

Since the book drive started in 2004, the Office of General Services has raised 402,000 books.

Moy said they plan for the memorial and community initiatives all year, but to her celebrating Martin Luther King Jr.’s memory is more than just part of her job.

“My life would not have been possible in the way that it is because of Dr. Martin Luther King,” she said.

She said Dr. King’s fight against segregation was an inspiration to her.

“It changed my education, it changed the composition of my family, it changed the composition of the people who surround me,” she said.


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