The Hyde Park Art Center, 5020 S. Cornell Ave.

“An Unapologetic Dream,” the Hyde Park Art Center’s (HPAC) Martin Luther King Jr. Day event, will take place virtually on Monday because of the recent COVID-19 omicron surge. 

The event, which spotlights local artists and filmmakers and was put together with the South Side Community Arts Center and the University of Chicago’s Arts + Public Life, was initially set to be held at the Greenline Performing Arts Center.

Ciera McKissick, public programs coordinator with HPAC, believes that the event will have more of an impact now that it is virtual.

“Before with it being in person, you have to be vaccinated and be able to come but now we'll be able to reach all different people and be able to have an archive of events. That's what I prefer,” she said. 

McKissick says that being able to record the conversation for those to hear later will be more impactful and helps share the message with others who may not initially have been able to attend.

The Zoom event features a screening of the documentary “Unapologetic” by Chicago filmmaker Ashley O’Shay. The film, released in the summer of last year, follows two abolitionist leaders and gives a deep look into the history of the Movement for Black Lives from the police murder of Rekia Boyd to the election of Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

The program also includes shorts from “The Black Archive Project” by local filmmaker Resita Cox, an excerpt from HPAC’s program artist Cathleen Campbell, and a poetry reading from Afro-Latina poet Leslé Honore.

According to McKissick, HPAC has put on multi-day celebrations for MLK Day over the years, and wanted to try something different by collaborating with others outside the institution.  

She said an important aspect of the event was tying it to contemporary issues that communities are still facing. Cox’s “The Black Archive Project” shows footage of the 2020 uprisings in Chicago, revealing how artists and creatives responded to the murder of George Floyd. Much of their organizing efforts mirror the work King did, McKissick pointed out. 

Although she spearheaded the creation of the event, McKissick says it wouldn’t have been possible without the help of the collaborators and the relationships with the filmmakers which were collectively shared.

She added that she really wanted to push stories told by women filmmakers to the forefront. 

“I think oftentimes, when you hear about activist work, it's usually talking about men and you have MLK, he is a man. But I think being able to show the side of things where women are at the frontlines as well and making and telling these stories also is really important. And all the people involved in the program are women as well.”

“An Unapologetic Dream: A MLK Day Celebration” will take place on January 17 from 4 p.m. - 7 p.m. Those interested can register here.

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