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Howell library holds its first MLK Day event, presenting Black and Brown Theatre of Detroit

Posted at 8:27 PM, Jan 16, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-16 20:27:11-05

HOWELL, Mich. (WXYZ) — On Monday, the Howell Carnegie District Library did something they hadn't done before. They held their first event for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Library Director Holly Ward Lamb said it's something they always wanted to do and then when the Huron-Clinton Metroparks reached out to them, along with the Livingston Diversity Council, "It was a no-brainer," Lamb said.

"Three great groups. We knew we could do something really quality for the community," she said.

For a long time, Howell has had a reputation of being unwelcoming to Black people. Some say it has more to do with a farm in nearby Cohoctah Township, which was home to a high-profile member of the KKK.

"I wasn't here during those times. I think Howell has a stigma because no one could pronounce Cohoctah, which was where the farm was," Lamb said, adding that there were some unfortunate events and members of the community have been working to move Howell forward.

"Howell has a history, but we're not just our history. And I think slowly over time, we're trying to change that narrative. We're trying to make people understand that we're not what happened a long time ago."

Part of that effort on this MLK Day includes the Black and Brown Theatre, an ensemble that often performs around the city of Detroit and the Ann Arbor area.

The Black and Brown Theatre is kicking off the first of a four-part series that the Howell library is calling MLK 101.

7 Action News spoke to producer Emilio Rodriguez.

"This is an original story called, "King Crusader and the Mystery of Michael the Kid." And it really stemmed from this idea of how do we tell a story about MLK's legacy that doesn't feel like everything we've heard before," Rodriguez said.

Writer Edmund Alyn Jones said to him, King was "like a superhero for social justice and that is precisely what I've decided to explore with "The King Crusader."

There will be a total of four events in the library's MLK 101 series, with one event a month until April.

Lamb said, "We labeled it MLK 101: The Series' behind the idea that we all have a lot to learn. So, let's start and let's build our knowledge."

"I think there's been a shift in the community and we want Howell to be perceived not as it was, but as it's becoming," she said. "I think we all have work to do. I think everyone has work to do, but I think this is a step in the right direction."

At 7 p.m. at the library on Feb. 2, there will be a screening of the film "I am MLK Jr." along with a panel discussion.

Then in March, there will be a virtual presentation by a civil rights historian.

And at the library on April 22, there will be a gospel choir performance.

Monday's presentation was recorded and it will be available to watch on the Howell Carnegie District Library's YouTube channel until Feb. 28.

To see more work from the Black and Brown Theatre, you can visit their YouTube page. You can also learn more on their website, Facebook page and Instagram page.