“I come to this magnificent House of Worship tonight, because my conscience leaves me no choice….

This was the opening line to Martin Luther King Jr.’s most controversial speech, decidedly delivered at Harlem’s Riverside Church on April 1, 1967 – exactly one year before his assassination.

The speech – Beyond Vietnam – was not his most famous. It was, in fact, wildly unpopular…as he knew it would be. Urging  conscientious objection to the war and a renewed commitment to economic and social justice, the message was a game-changer. Dr. King delivered hundreds of speeches in his short lifetime, including sermons nearly every Sunday and two of the most famous and memorable speeches in American history. While most of us can recite passages from I Have A Dream and I’ve Been to the Mountaintop, Beyond Vietnam – where King condemned the “triple evils of racism, economic exploitation and militarism” – perhaps remains the most relevant as we, again and still, grapple with an endless war and looming economic inequalities.

It is no wonder he chose to start the critical conversation here. He had spoken many times before at Riverside Church -  a place that had long seen itself as a champion for social justice. He needed to deliver this message – a startling departure from his known path – with spiritual friends in the presence of God, in a place where he knew his words would be both heard and blessed as he embarked upon an even more dangerous journey. That place of comfort was Harlem. Riverside Church. Riverside Church

The Riverside Church commemorates and celebrates MLK this weekend. Let’s join them, and others,  in revisiting Martin with gratitude, action and, most of all, joy!


2:00 PM-3:30 PMRiverside Church Hosts Rev. Michael Walrond, Martin Luther King III & Others to Celebrate MLK Jr.’s Legacy: The Riverside Church—the renowned church where Dr. King gave his historic Beyond Vietnam speech—will host Senior Pastor of the historic First Corinthian Baptist Church in Harlem, the Rev. Michael A. Walrond, Jr. as its featured guest speaker during a celebration of word and song. In addition to Rev. Walrond, the event will also include as guest speakers: human rights advocate and the oldest child of Dr. King, Martin Luther King, III; Riverside Church Senior Minister Emeritus, The Rev. Dr. James A. Forbes, Jr.; founder of progressive policy think-tank The Drum Major Institute, attorney William Wachtel; and The Rev. Dr. Serene Jones, President, Union Theological Seminary. The program will also feature a special performance of “Let Justice Roll” by Mark Miller, accompanied by a mass choir including members of The Riverside Inspirational Choir and the Ebony Ecumenical Ensemble. 2:00-3:30 PM in the Nave, 490 Riverside Drive (bet. 120th & 122nd), Morningside Heights. |

3:00 PMApollo Uptown Hall | WNYC & Apollo Present Dreams for NYC Inspired by MLK: WNYC’s annual Martin Luther King Day Celebration comes uptown to the Apollo Theater for a special edition, presented as part of the Apollo’s Uptown Hall series. Each year WNYC Radio brings together scholars, community leaders and activists to engage in conversation with host Brian Lehrer about the legacy of King’s dream, and how his teachings can still inform our view of America society today. FREE and open to the public. Apollo Theater, 253 West 125th Street | Ph: 212.531.5300 |

3:00 PMJazz for Martin with the Hamiet Bluiett Group: Mount Morris Ascension Presbyterian Church presents a concert in celebration of MLK with Hamiet Bluiett, who is widely regarded as one of the most talented baritone saxophone players in all of jazz music. Demonstrating a huge, impressive sound, superb technique, and a mastery of his horn in every register, in his solos he provides an array of tonal colors and harmonic options. Bluiett has played in many excellent groups, led his own bands, and has been featured on numerous magnificent recordings. In 1976 Bluiett, Julius Hemphill, Oliver Lake and David Murray formed the World Saxophone Quartet, considered among the most important acoustic jazz quartets.$10. Mount Morris Ascension Presbyterian Church, 16-20 Mount Morris Park West @ 122nd Street | Ph: 212.831.6800

9:00 PM – 2:00 AMMLK Weekend Celebration with Sundae Sermon and Soul Summit: It is okay to conclude this day of reflection with dance and  joy. And, who better to do it with than Sundae Sermon, whose name invokes the very spirit of the great Reverend. Sundae Sermon and Soul Summit come together on this one to spin the greatest classics in honor of Martin. $5 Cover. Ginny’s Supper Club, 310 Lenox Avenue @ 125th Street |

MONDAY, JANUARY 20, 2014 –

9:00 AM-2:30 PM16th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr “Nonviolence: Seeks to Win Friendship and Understanding”: The Abyssinian Baptist Church Ministry of Christian Social Concern presents this annual event, based on the Dr. King’s 2nd Principle of Non-Violence. Keynote Speaker, The Honorable Debra James, New York State Supreme Court Justice. Also featuring: Non-violence workshops, Videos of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Nelson Mandela, and Impact Repertory Theater. Continental Breakfast and Lunch Served. Abyssinian Baptist Church, 132 W. 138th Street | Ph: 212.862.7474 |

1:00 PMBig Onion Walking Tours | MLK Day Tour in Historic Harlem: At the center of African-American history and culture, Harlem is one of New York’s most significant neighborhoods. This tour explores the history of Harlem, featuring stops at Abyssinian Baptist Church, The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Striver’s Row, the Apollo Theater, and more.  $20. Rain or shine. Visit the site to book in advance or meet the group at 1PM @ the Northwest corner of 135th Street & Lenox Avenue (Malcolm X) – in front of the Schomburg Center. | Tour Hotline: 800.606.WALK |


- Morningsider is pleased to continue our guest blogger features with Omo Misha who writes about the Uptown Arts, Culture and Entertainment experience!  Misha is a visual artist, curator and arts administrator, currently serving as Program Director for The LeRoy Neiman Art Center. She is a Curate NYC 2013 Judge, author of “Manifesting Things”, editor of the anthology “9/11: Voices from the Outsider Media” and a contributing writer to Of Note Magazine, which features global artists using the arts as tools for social change. You can follow Omo Misha directly at and on Facebook