Peabody Museum’s MLK Jr. Day Festivities Showcase Array of Talents

A youth talent show and other activities designed entirely by and for youths will be part of the mix this year, when the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History hosts its 13th annual celebration of Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday.

The two-day program — which also features breakdancing, storytelling, homemade drums and the popular poetry slam — will take place Sunday, Jan. 18, noon-4 p.m. and Monday, Jan. 19, 10 a.m.-4:30-p.m. It is free and open to the public.

“Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s Legacy of Environmental and Social Justice 2009” showcases how the civil rights leader strove to raise awareness about public health concerns and urban environmental issues that disproportionately affect minorities.

Sunday activities will include the youth talent show in the museum’s auditorium plus World Stage performances in the Great Hall of Dinosaurs by such groups as Brian Jarawa Gray (1-1:30 p.m.), African Arawak Connection (2-2:30 p.m.) and Kouffin Kanèckè Company (3-3:30 p.m.). The day will also include a traditional Punjabi dance performance by the Yale Bhangra Team (4-4:30 p.m.), and storyteller Karen Johnson’s “Plantation Doll” (1-2 p.m.) The Youth Talent Show, titled “Let’s Make a Difference,” will be held 1-4 p.m. in the auditorium.

Activities planned for Monday include “A Community Poetry Open Mic” (11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.), allowing people of all ages to share their original poetry, rap or speak their minds on issues of justice and injustice; New Haven Breakdancers (1:45-2:15 p.m.); Premier Dance Ensemble (11-11:30 p.m.);and Yale Shades, an a capella group (1-1:30 p.m.). The annual invitational Environmental and Social Justice Poetry Slam (1:30-4:30 p.m.) draws poets from all over the country who compete for a top prize of $1,000. This event always draws a crowd, especially for the final round.

This year’s invited poetry slam participants are: Kyle Brooks, Desiree Marshall, Kasim Allah, Soulful Jones, Tahani Selah, Remi Kanazi, Akua Doku, Afrikess, Advocate of Wordz, Jamaal St. John, Influence, Panama Soweto, Brian Dykstra, Carlos Robson, Safia Elhillo, RIP MC, Emily Carpenter, D. Black, Kesed, Aaron Jafferis, Baub Bidon, Caroline Rothstein, Darlin’ Nikki Janzen and Hermina Marcellin

Monday’s events will be capped by Michael Mills and his Drums No Guns organization leading a participatory closing drum circle 3:30-4:30 p.m. in the Great Hall of Dinosaurs. All visitors will be en­couraged to participate. The museum will lead a homemade drum-making activity at noon that day where participants can build a drum to use during the drum circle finale.

Throughout the two-day festival, there will also be activities hosted by local organizations.

The event is sponsored by Citizens Bank, the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection, and Yale’s Office of New Haven and State Affairs.

The Peabody Museum of Natural History, located at 170 Whitney Ave., is open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday, and noon-5 p.m. Sunday. For directions, events, or other information call (203) 432-5050 or visit the website at

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