Wednesday, January 16, 2008

MLK Day listening parties

Do you have plans for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day?

A few nights ago, I heard a broadcast of his 1967 speech “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break the Silence.” I'd heard it before, but once again I was floored by this powerful statement against the war and for a radical transformation of American values and policy.

I was driving when it came on the radio. As I approached my neighborhood, I took a few detours to pass through busy pedestrian areas, with the windows rolled down despite an icy chill, hoping that others might catch a spark from hearing the sound of his voice. In the final minutes of the speech, I was sitting in the car outside my apartment, when a friend called. I answered it but simply put the cellphone down on the seat so whoever was on the line could listen, if they chose not to hang up. Luckily, once the speech was over, I found that the friend on the line was as awed as I was. We began to brainstorm ways we could get others to listen to the recording, such as hooking up a public address system to a car or cart and amplifying it in parks, parking lots, street corners. We began to lay plans.

These plans fell by the wayside during the busy week, but here's what I am going to do instead: I posted a flyer at the entrance of my building, inviting my 20 or so neighbors to join me Monday night to listen together to this moving address. Then we'll see where the conversation takes us. Then we'll eat some food.

Doesn't that sound great? Don't you want to set up a listening party, too?

Alternative Radio sells the recording as a downloadable MP3 file, at (They also sell CDs and cassettes, but it's too late to order one for MLK Day.)

It's also available to listen online at

If you put together a listening party, please let me know.

PS If you're in Seattle and you have Monday free, don't forget the annual Martin Luther King, Jr., Celebration with Workshops (9:30am-11am), Rally (11am), and March (12pm) from Franklin High School to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park. (Free food and refreshments served afterward in Franklin's lunch room.)

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