Martin Luther King day 2018:

Where do we go from here?

De Nieuwe Liefde Amsterdam | €10 inclusief drankje | zondag 14 januari 2018 – 15.00 -17:30 | Program is in English 

‘I have never lived, nor has any of us, in a world in which race did not matter’. – Toni Morrison.

Martin Luther King Jr. sprak op 28 augustus 1963 voor meer dan 200.000 mensen over zijn beroemde droom in Washington DC. Zijn woorden markeren een historisch ijkpunt in de Amerikaanse burgerrechtenbeweging. MLK’s strijd voor gelijke rechten en tegen racisme is, na meer dan 50 jaar, wereldwijd nog pijnlijk actueel.

Hoe staat de anti-racisme beweging in Nederland er voor? Enerzijds zijn er inspirerende initiatieven, zoals The Black Archives en New Urban Collective in Amsterdam. Anderzijds roept de Zwarte Pietendiscussie nog steeds weerstand op, en laat het een verbeten vasthouden aan tradities zien. Dit leidde er zelfs toe dat grondrechten – zoals dat op demonstratie – vorig jaar werden geschonden met de blokkade richting Dokkum. En recentelijk won hoogleraar Gloria Wekker de Joke Smitprijs voor haar langdurige strijd voor de verbetering van de positie van onder anderen zwarte vrouwen in Nederland. Die toekenning leverde een stroom aan kritiek en verontwaardiging op.

We openen de dialoog met Amerikaanse activist Lucas Johnson en oprichter van The Black Archives Mitchell Esajas. We leggen hen dezelfde vraag voor die King stelde in zijn boek in 1967: Where do we go from here? Daarna gaan de sprekers in gesprek met elkaar en het publiek. Praat mee!

De MLK dag is een eerbetoon aan het werk van Martin Luther King Jr., die op 15 januari 1929 werd geboren, en wordt georganiseerd door Humanity in Action: educate, connect, inspire.


Lucas Johnson is part of the new generation of civil right activists in the USA. He is International Coordinator of the IFOR, the International Fellowship of Reconciliation, organization that stands for a world where conflicts are resolved through nonviolent means, where systems that foster fear and hatred are dismantled, and where justice is sought as a basis for peace.

Mitchell Esajas is co-founder and chair of New Urban Collective, a social enterprise with the mission to strengthen the socio-economic position of youths with a migrant background, especially those of African descent.

Nawal Mustafa (moderator) is currently working on her PhD at the faculty of Migration Law at the VU Amsterdam. Due to the civil war in Somalia, Nawal and her family came to the Netherlands in 1995. During previous years she worked actively with development and human rights organizations such as Nedsom & Amnesty International Student Group.

Pravini Baboeram brings the best of both worlds: a foundation of pop/rock and hiphop/soul she grew up with in The Netherlands and the South-American rhythms of Suriname and the Caribbean, where her cultural background is rooted. Armed with her own band, Pravini fuses these influences into an energetic and dynamic performance that is bound to capture the audience.

‘I have never lived, nor has any of us, in a world in which race did not matter’. – Toni Morrison.

On the 28th of August 1963 Martin Luther King Jr. spoke to a crowd of over 200.000 people in Washington DC about his renowned dream . His words mark a highlight in the history of the American civil rights movement. MLK´s fight to eradicate racism and support equal rights for all is, despite over fifty years passing by, still painfully relevant worldwide.

What is the current state of the anti-racism movement in the Netherlands? On the one hand we boast inspiring initiatives, such as the Black Archives en New Urban Collective in Amsterdam. On the other hand we are met with overwhelming resistance in the discussion about Black Pete, displaying the Dutch inability to address the problematic and controversial nature of this tradition. This fierce response even led to fundamental rights – such as the right to demonstration – being violated last year, when protesters on their way to Dokkum were halted by a man-made barricade. In this context we must also mention the racialized outrage directed at professor Gloria Wekker, after she was awarded the Joke Smit award for her tireless efforts to, amongst other pursuits, improve the position of black women in Dutch society.

We will open dialogue on these issues with American activist Lucas Johnson and Mitchell Esajas, founder of the Black Archives, by asking them the same question King posed in his 1967 work: Where do we go from here? Afterwards the speakers will engage with one another and the audience. Come and contribute!

This MLK Day event is dedicated to the work of Martin Luther King Jr, who was born on the 15th of January 1929, and organized by Humanity in Action: educate, connect, inspire.

Photo by Jeronimo Bernot