By: Maddie Miller
What’s it like to get chills every other minute on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day? Simply put, it is incredible and easily done when you are in D.C. volunteering for most of the day. It is even easier when you end your evening with a Gladys Knight concert at the Kennedy Center.
Today marks an important time that comes every year, and the Kennedy Center hosted their 15th annual Let Freedom Ring Celebration to commemorate the event. This event included the Let Freedom Ring Celebration Choir, two different dramatic performance groups from Georgetown University, and the presentation of the John Thompson, Jr. Legacy of a Dream Award. These events worked to demonstrate the impact that Martin Luther King’s Jr.’s life still has on the public.
The concert was part of a free concert series that the Kennedy Center offers daily. The magnitude of this day drew even more crowds as the group of students that attended the concert waited in line for multiple hours. The demographics of attendees for this event ranged greatly among race, age, and gender. Attire was varied as well as some came in full suits or cocktail dresses, and others were in jeans and a t-shirt. This could potentially be credited to the fact that the Kennedy Center is typically viewed as a formal venue, yet the concert was free and geared toward a diverse audience.
Having a performer with the influence of Gladys Knight allowed for her long-standing connections to shine through. She spoke to her own connections to MLK as a he was supportive to her singing career at a young age, even encouraging others to support her at a talent show she participated in when she was young. Knight also shared how she looked up to Dr. King as a role model, and saw many of the principles of her work included in her songs. Knight’s voice soared as she used song to tell stories, uniting everyone in that room.
The experience of listening to a woman who is revered for her voice and dedication to helping others in a hall commemorating JFK with a crowd full of people honoring the life’s mission of Martin Luther King, Jr. will truly be a once in a lifetime joyful moment. I had chills every other minute, and I couldn’t be more grateful to D.C.