Friday, August 26, 2011

One Common Unity "The MLK Streets Project" Set to Premiere

In January, Human Ties posted a brief article from Humanities Council Board Member Aaron Jenkins who attended a rough cut screening of One Common Unity's new documentary film, "The MLK Streets Project."

The completed film's premiere was scheduled to coincide with this weekend's unveiling of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial on the Mall, but may be postponed, along with many other MLK-related activities, due to imminent landfall of Hurricane Irene.

The following article, outlining the project's goals and activities, was contributed by the director. We will keep you posted via Facebook and Twitter (@HumanitiesDC) as we find out whether the premiere and associated events are postponed.

A common joke within the African-American community is that, although Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stood for nonviolence, streets named after the civil rights martyr throughout the country are oftentimes marred by crime, vandalism, declining black businesses (if any), and yes, violence.  During the summer of 2008, 12 high school students were selected to participate in A NU View, One Common Unity’s youth filmmaking program. They embarked on a historical and investigative filmmaking journey, during which they interviewed families and business owners residing near Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, SE in Anacostia, researching the history of the neighborhood and its changing socio-economic conditions. The process was replicated for MLK Avenues in 10 other cities around the nation.

The group subsequently developed a documentary exploring the juxtaposition of the current status of Washington, DC’s MLK Ave. and the picture of America that Dr. King painted in his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.  The students personally related the progress of Dr. King's dream to a hip-hop generation, all while learning the fundamentals of filmmaking.

Selected with the help of principals and teachers, the students were focused on fostering positive community engagement and building an analysis of the socio-economic forces that keep people living in poverty. A NU View introduces students to alternative career choices in the entertainment industry providing firsthand experience in film production from start to finish. They can draw on their own personal experiences and use the art of story telling as a creative outlet, and a means for community activism.  This program increases the participants understanding of Washington’s cultural and social import through an artistic lens, challenging them to think critically about the country and the world in which we live.

Now three years later, this documentary film entitled, “The MLK Streets Project,” is finally set for release. The final product will be screened for audiences in DC through various local film festivals, air on DC Public Access Television, and be shown  at high schools and universities through-out the city.  While the film is screened at local high schools, One Common Unity facilitators will: host interactive workshops on conflict, resolution, and nonviolence; and facilitate dialogue on the importance of each person telling his or her own story.  This exposure will give the students a platform to share their art, open discussion on how to bridge the gap between civil rights and hip-hop, and give them greater awareness of their place in history.

On Sunday, August 28th, 2011, celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the historic March on Washington and coinciding with the unveiling of the national monument dedicated to Dr. King earlier that morning, the film will premiere at the Historic Gala Theatre (3333 14th Street NW) from 1-4PM. The event will include a VIP cocktail reception and a community discussion regarding the current state of MLK streets in relation to his “Dream.”

For more information visit .

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