MLK Day: Speaking Love

MLK Day: Speaking Love
Museum Hours

Please note: tickets to MLK Day: Speaking Love are now sold out and no tickets will be available at the door. 

"People fail to get along because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don't know each other; they don't know each other because they have not communicated with each other" - Martin Luther King, Jr.

Join us on the Sunday, January 17 to celebrate MLK Day for an afternoon of sharing and reflecting through art. Come together in spirit to remember Dr. King's words while moving beyond our comfort zones and exploring new perspectives in the IMA Galleries at Newfields and from your home.

Sunday, January 17, 2021
Free for everyone
Advance tickets required

Film Dialogues by Coye Lloyd 

My general understanding of most people and things stems from seeing them on television. My mom learned from Casino Royale (2006) that saltwater makes one vomit and later used this knowledge to save me from an allergic reaction to brazil nuts (I can very seriously say James Bond saved my life). I learned from television, like many of us, that Martin Luther King Jr. is a good man. His legacy lives in the stories we tell about his heroism, morality, and superhuman ability to not only bring people together but also follow him for a righteous goal. Television, depending on its viewer may tell many different perspectives and worldviews. Considering the events that led to January 6th of this year, I would like to explore the several disparate ways media tells stories. This short list of films explores how media constructs narratives around bodies to either uplift, denigrate, or distort.   

Akeelah and the Bee 

(2006, dir. Doug Atchison, 112 mins., PG; streaming on HBOMax)

Children are quite literally our future. We, matured humans, make decisions based on how they may affect the future. If the children are our future, and the choices we adults make affect the future, then we therefore make decisions that nurture our children/future. Like all healthy relationships, this is a two-way street. We cultivate hope in our children’s souls to secure our future. In return, children create spaces we matured humans forgot existed. In the 2006 film Akeelah and the Bee we meet one such space maker. Although somewhat formulaic, Akeelah acutely traces the relationship adults have to “The Real World” and how even our best intentions may incidentally lead children to the comforts and pitfalls scolded against. I also truly enjoy how the film explores the tension created in language and how it defines Black authenticity. We must allow imagination to flourish in our Children, it may be our only hope. 

The Central Park Five 

(2012, dirs. Ken Burns, Sarah Burns, and David McMahon, 119 mins., NR; streaming on PBS and Kanopy) 

Ken Burns’ The Central Park Five, like Akeelah, is a film about children. In fact, this documentary deals with what could happen to Akeelah’s classmates and contemporaries. Hope in the hood movies like Akeelah and the Bee tend to draw lines between Them vs Us. Let me clarify that the lines between us and them are blurry, unclear, and vague. To have order we have to construct narratives around those we do not know. At one time even the narratives surrounding a figure as contemporarily beloved as Martin Luther King Jr. were hostile. This film ruminates on the consequences of a lack of imagination from adults. Are there only some children we instill hope in? What happens to children assumed poisonous and treated as such by the two most powerful institutions in American life: Law and Media? As you watch this film, ask if (your) compassion is equitable. 

Tongues Untied

(1989, dir. Marlon Riggs, 55 mins., NR; streaming on Kanopy) 

Marlon Riggs, the director of the lyrical documentary Tongues Untied, found comfort in the images and spirit of Black luminaries like Harriet Tubman and our guest of honor, Martin Luther King Jr. Their strength guided Riggs throughout his short life. Marlon Riggs was gay, black, and male. Although queer visibility pervades today, it holds a precarious space in our collective attention. Did we not experience a similar dissolution of anti-racist rhetoric in our social media feeds as time progressed from Summer 2020? Riggs, like any oppressed individual, sought liberation. This documentary signals that plea to be seen, understood and recognized in the grand narratives of American Life. Representation matters. It matters in our televisions, our printed mediums, our classrooms and societal institutions. More pointedly, black, queer representation matters within grand narratives of Black American history, as our history excludes those who evade hegemonically agreed “positive” characteristics of good men and women. 

Medicine for Melancholy

(2008, dir. Barry Jenkins, 88 mins., NR; available to rent everywhere) 

You know the phrase “people don’t do *blank* anymore”? Medicine for Melancholy encapsulates that brand of nostalgia both within the film and in how it fits into cinema’s canon. As a film not terribly interested in evaluative representations of Black folk, it destabilizes pervasive Black stereotypes similarly to what Tongues achieves. While the narrative recalls French New Wave, our hapless couple Micah and Jo’ encapsulate the existential weight of being allowed the same space to be weird as their white and white-adjacent peers. Micah and Jo’ are Black hipsters. Micah speaks to Jo’ as if she were his girl and their Blackness should keep them together. Micah laments the changing cityscape (read: gentrification) of San Francisco. Meanwhile Jo’ tries to live light and youthfully. In this film, Blackness becomes a prism. Because of the othered Otherness of our hapless lovers, this film signals a season’s change in who and how Black people are written for the screen. 


(1998, dir. Stephen Norrington, 120 mins., R, streaming on HBOMax)/Brother from Another Planet (1984, dir. John Sayles, 108 mins., R; streaming on Tubi) 

I wanted to conclude with a superhero, such as we understand MLK Jr. In the case of Blade, our hero looks like a man, but he is both a man and a day walking vampire. For Brother, this alien also passes for human, however, possesses skills loosely based in science fiction physics. In both films our hero is Black and masculine. Both are exceptional like Akeelah. Both misunderstood like the Central Park Five. Both upheld by communities like Marlon Riggs. They are Black in spaces filled with those who believe they are white like our melancholic lovers. We look to our screens (silver, phone, television) in pursuit of knowledge. Other times we seek an echo chamber, a voice of reason to assuage our convictions. If the media’s role is objective, how may we understand the representations of Black bodies in media. Are these images objective facts or subjective fictions?  

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Meet Coye Lloyd

Coye Lloyd has been baptized in academia by earning a master’s degree in Film Studies from Ohio University. No, she is not a Buckeye, she’s a Wildcat. Coye’s writing has also been featured in FAF Collective and by Kan Kan Cinema.  


Patches of purpose

Stitching our Community's Past with the Present for Our Future

Gather your friends, family, grownups, or pets to craft a paper quilt representative of your community that will evoke the warmth and comfort of your favorite blanket. Reflect on imagery in your life that you can recreate on quilt patches, use these patches as symbols of what brings you joy, and then follow the directions below to construct a quilt that tells your story like the many storytellers who’ve quilted before us. 

Here’s what you’ll need: 

  • Craft pipe cleaners/chenille stem, ribbons, string, twist ties, or glue  

  • Markers, crayons, colored pencils, paint, or pictures from magazines  

  • Pencil  

  • Hole punch  

  • Ruler  

  • Scissors  

  • 12 4 in. x 4 in. paper squares - these will be your quilt patches, use cardstock, printer paper, or construction paper  

Step 1.jpg Step 1 - Gather your supplies.
Step 2.jpg Step 2 - Use your ruler to mark ¼  inch from the left and right side on your 4x4  patch. 
Step 3.JPG Step 3 - Use a hole punch to punch four holes at your ¼ inch marks .
Step 4.jpg Step 4 - Measure a ¼ inch from the top and bottom and make a mark, then use your hole punch to punch those marks, making eight total holes. Once you have finished your first patch you can use it as a template to trace and punch the rest of your patches.  
Step 5.jpg Step 5 - Create different images of your community on each patch, work with a group and divide the patches equally among your friends or grownups. For inspiration, think about things, people and places in your home, school, and city that make you happy and healthy.   
Step 6.JPG Step 6 - Cut your pipe cleaners/chenille stems into 2-inch pieces. If you don’t have pipe cleaners you can use ribbon, string, twist ties or glue.   
Step 7.JPG Step 7 - Thread the pipe cleaner through your holes and use the pipe cleaners to attach your patches to each other. You can also embellish your quilt with wood or pony beads.  
Step 8.JPG Step 8 - Continue to attach the patches until you have completed your quilt. Call a friend or family member and show off your quilt, tell them about why each patch is important to you and help them think of ideas for their own quilt.  


Art for Thought

Community members LaShawnda Crowe Storm and Sampson Levingston have chosen artworks in the IMA Galleries to highlight on this day inspired by the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and invite you to reflect on the importance of art, connection, perspective, and community. Find out more about the 5 artworks they chose.

Find all 5 artworks in the IMA Galleries at Newfields.


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1. Double Concave Circle,(Deep Violet Red), 1970

De Wain Valentine (American, b. 1936)

De Wain Valentine (American, b. 1936), Double Concave Circle (Deep Violet-Red), 1970, polyester resin, sculpture: 91-1/8 x 93-1/2 x 10-3/8 in. (thickness at top 5-3/8 in.). On loan from Randall and Sheila Ott © De Wain Valentine

Check out this video  of LaShawnda Crowe Storm.

This is the first piece of artwork that I encountered when I began planning the pieces for this discussion. Before even reading anything, I immediately thought this is a giant drop of blood. I then noticed it sat across from a display discussing the American flag. As an artist whose practice for nearly two decades has been intimately exploring lynching in America, the reality is that America’s soil is blood soaked. Recent events that took place in our nation’s capital, summer uprisings against police shootings, the on-going disparate impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and so much more . . . the question remains, “if these weeping wounds can be healed, do you want to heal them? And if so, how?”

Dig a little deeper:


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2. three-piece Christian panel painting, 18th-19th century

Amhara People (Ethiopia)

Amhara people (Ethiopian), three-piece Christian panel painting, 18th–19th centuries, wood, cloth, plaster, pigment, left) 11-3/4 × 3-13/16 in., middle) 11-3/4 × 7-5/8 in., right) 11-5/8 × 3-7/8 in. Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields, Mr. and Mrs. William R. Spurlock Fund, 1997.59.1–.3.

Check out this video of LaShawnda Crowe Storm.

It is without question that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a man of faith. Violently forced upon the enslaved African population, Christianity’s history in America is fraught with contradictions. Yet, many could see the liberation aspects of Christianity lived out within the compassion of Jesus while slave owners used the same Bible to justify slavery. As a faith, Christianity’s oldest forms were not born in America but birthed on the African continent.  As Christianity continued to manifest in America, it has become deeply impacted by racism and white supremacy. As such, how do we understand our faith traditions, if we have not started to be honest about the root of where those traditions were born and then continued to evolve? Or how we have mis-stepped and what we can do about it now? The book White Too Long: The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity by Robert P. Jones explores the intersection of racism and Christianity in America.

Dig a little deeper: 

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3. Janiform Male figure (eshe), 20th century 

Urhobo People, Nigeria

Urhobo, Janiform male figure (eshe), 20th century, wood, incrustation, iron, 64-7/8 × 13-1/2 × 11-1/2 in. Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Harrison Eiteljorg, 1989.817.

Check out this video of LaShawnda Crowe Storm.

As we think about the ancestors of those that arrived on these shores either by choice or force, and those who were already here but decimated by the arrival of European and enslaved Africans, how do we heal these histories and our ancestors that lived through the violent “making of America”? Those questions are not the same for everyone. Questions to explore based on your background may include:

  • What does racial healing look like?
  • Is racial reconciliation possible? What is it and who is it for?
  • How do you heal the violence inflicted by your ancestors?
  • How does healing these histories, heal the land and its people?


Dig a little deeper: 

  • The Lyncher In Me: A Search for Redemption in the Face of History by Warren Read
  • The Little Book of Dialogue for Difficult Subject by Lisa Schirch and David Campt​​​​​​​​​​​​​
  • The Little Book of Race and Restorative Justice: Black Lives, Healing, and US Social Transformation by Fania E. Davis​​​​​​​​​​​​​​
  • The Little Book of Racial Healing by Thomas Norman DeWolf​​​​​​​

  • The Little Book of Transformative Community Conferencing by David Anderson Hooker

  • The Little Book of Trauma Healing: Revised & Updated: When Violence Strikes and Community Security Is Threatened  by Carolyn Yoder

  • Workshop: Interrupting Racism for Children

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4. Dancing Ganesha, 1000s

Artist Unknown, Central Indian, Pala Period (730-1119)

Pala period (Indian), Dancing Ganesha, 1000s, sandstone, 27 × 18 in. Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields, Gift of Alan Hartman, 74.601.

Check out this video of LaShawnda Crowe Storm.

King’s dreams are possible, but not without a lot of hard work. They must move beyond mere “intention.” However, some would argue that the premise of the United States is working EXACTLY as it was meant to work and the recent violence witnessed in the nation’s capital reflects what happens when the system of white supremacy and structural racism is challenged. – Within the Hindu pantheon Ganesha is the remover of obstacles and bringer of prosperity. In this piece he is dancing linking him to his father Shiva, who destroys and recreates the world through his dance. If we could wipe the slate clean and start again, knowing what we know now, what type of America would we build from scratch? Can we build a society where all prosper? These ideas are currently be explored through Spirit & Place’s Corona Dialogue series, where they will bring community together to begin designing the next world that comes after – the pandemic, the uprisings, the elections and so much more.



Dig a little deeper: 

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5. Dolly & Rach, about 1930

John Wesley Hardrick (American, 1891-1968)

John Wesley Hardrick (American, 1891–1968), Dolly & Rach, about 1930, oil on board, 43 × 38-1/8 × 2 in. (framed). Lent by Constance Stubbs © John Wesley Hardrick.

Check out this video Sampson Levingston.

I’ve always believed that if we stop to look at the beauty of life, we can notice the simplicity. The first Hardrick painting I saw, about a year ago, showed his Indiana surroundings, like many, he saw beauty in the simple nature of Indiana. This painting shows the beauty Hardrick sees in human nature, conversation. Even children know the value of communication and compassion.

Our human nature and advancements in technology allow us to connect with each other in a multitude of ways. As we grow older, do we as a society get better, or worse, with how we communicate with one another? Why?

For more resources and stories about our unique and often untold Indiana Black History, visit

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Meet LaShawnda Crowe Storm

LaShawnda Crowe Storm is a mixed media artist community-based artist, activist, community builder and occasionally an urban farmer. Whether making artwork or sowing seeds, she uses her creative power as a vehicle for dialogue around topics such as racial and gender violence, social change, and justice. At the core of my practice is a desire to create community; any community in which the process of making art creates a space for difficult discussions with an eye towards community healing. She has received numerous awards for art and community activism including but not limited to an ArtPlace America National Creative Placemaking Award and DeHaan Artist of Distinction Award. Crowe Storm received an M.F.A. from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. 

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Meet Sampson Levingston

Sampson Levingston, the storyteller, Indiana history-lover, and tour guide, was born and raised here in Indianapolis. He attended Cathedral High School and was a member of 3 state championship football teams from 2010 to 2012. Levingston accepted a full scholarship to play football at Indiana State University and was a 4 yearr starter at wide receiver for the Sycamores. He is the founder of Through2Eyes, a platform that believes in discovering who you are, through discovering where you are. Over the summer Sampson launched his “Walk & Talk” tours down Indiana Avenue and on the eastside in Irvington. Since June of 2020, Sampson has led over 60 walking history tours. Visit to see more. 


spoken word poetry

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Meet Januarie York

Januarie is a freelance writer, published author & poet who, in addition to performing original poetry, has produced several of her own spoken word theatrical shows that focus on uplifting and inspiring women. She is currently putting the final preparation on her first full-length book, "NOMAD", set for Fall 2019.  


When bodies Move, minds soar!

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One of the striking developments of the COVID-19 pandemic is an appreciation of how unbounded things are. Social and virtual networking has transformed our understanding of the nature of arts and in person performance. Artists have ultimately had to create with a different mindset as it relates to artistic content and form a unique set of outputs.

When Bodies Move, Minds Soar is our first attempt at being present publicly even when we’re miles apart, destroying the illusion of boundaries. We’re taking another route. In short, as all of the new evolvement of virtual realness continues, we are investigating language, movement and creative disciplines to manifest a cognitive revolution.


Kenyettá Dance Company (KDC)

Kenyettá Dance Company is a community of dance artists who have since 2004 shared our experience and continue to express the joy, the promise and the pursuit of artistic excellence. KDC continues to examine the power of the human spirit from the African American aesthetic into the tapestry of arts organizations in Indianapolis, Indiana. KDC is propelled by matters in the community both social and spiritual and believe that our dynamic expression of style and choreography play a vital role in preserving African American culture. Kenyettá Dance enthusiastically reaches across ethnic and socio-economic lines to celebrate the beauty and diversity of dance. We move in a way that goes beyond artistry.

In addition to our many stage productions and performances over the past 15 years here in Indianapolis and throughout Indiana, Brooklyn, N.Y., Dallas, TX. Charleston, IL and Toronto, Canada, KDC provides opportunities for people of all ages and abilities to further their understanding and appreciation of contemporary dance.  The KDC organization has collaborative links to inner-city youth and aspiring young dancers through our association with Arts for Learning, the Arts Council of Indianapolis, the Indiana Arts Commission, Arts with A Purpose, the Madam Walker Legacy Center, the International Association of Blacks in Dance (IABD), Deeply Rooted Dance Theater of Chicago, IL., the African American Dance Company of Indiana University and the African American Arts Institute of Indiana University.