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Press Release

Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor to Deliver the Rothko Chapel’s 2021 Annual MLK Lecture

December 23, 2020


“The Radical King and the Quest to Change America” will be livestreamed on Friday, January 15

Houston, TX – On Friday, January 15, 2021, as part of its annual celebration of the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the Rothko Chapel will host a lecture, titled “The Radical King and the Quest to Change America,” by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, Assistant Professor in the Department of African-American Studies at Princeton University. The program will be live-streamed at 6 pm (central time) via Vimeo on Dr. King’s birthday. Registration is required and free, but a donation is suggested.

Professor Taylor’s lecture will look at the arc of Dr. King’s career – from his “dream” for a just America, to his calls for a “radical reconstruction” of the United States at the end of his life. Professor Taylor will look at the question: What compelled the transformation of King’s ideas and what do they tell us about our society today? Professor Taylor will engage these questions in the hopes of unlocking the ideas and strategies necessary to enact effective and lasting change in the United States.

The lecture will be followed by a moderated Q&A session with Brandon Mack, Houston GLBT Political Caucus screening chair, NLC Black Caucus Board Advisor, and one of the organizers of Black Lives Matter: Houston.

Professor Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor is the author of Race for Profit: How Banks and the Real Estate Industry Undermined Black Homeownership, which was published in 2019 by the University of North Carolina Press, and longlisted for a National Book Award for nonfiction and a 2020 finalist for the Pulitzer in History. Also of high acclaim, her book, From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation, won the Lannan Cultural Freedom Award for an Especially Notable Book in 2016. Additionally, Professor Taylor is the editor of How We Get Free: Black Feminism and the Combahee River Collective, which won the Lambda Literary Award for LGBTQ nonfiction in 2018, and a columnist for The New Yorker.

Rothko Chapel began this important annual gathering in 1979 to connect the contemporary implications of Dr. King’s legacy to the ongoing struggle for civil and human rights, captured through artist Barnett Newman’s Broken Obelisk. This sculpturelocated on the plaza adjacent to the Chapel, is dedicated to Dr. King. Recent MLK presenters for the Rothko MLK event include national syndicated columnist Leonard Pitts, Jr., Freedom Singer Rutha Mae Harris, and global hip-hop artist David Banner. 

The link to register for the program can be found on the Chapel’s website:

In 2021, the Rothko Chapel is celebrating its 50th Anniversary and presenting a series of programs exploring the current state of human and civil rights in the United States. The Chapel is focusing on how creative and courageous leadership at the grassroots level joined together with policy makers who are committed to justice can mobilize people throughout the country to work together to create a more equitable future and lasting change. This series began with a lecture in October with New York Times columnist and journalist Charles Blow titled “Is this really a racial reckoning?” and will continue with the 2021 MLK program, culminating with a two-part symposium in the spring and fall of 2021.

About Rothko Chapel

The Rothko Chapel is a contemplative space that successfully interconnects art, spirituality and compassionate action through a broad array of public programs and community initiatives. It is open to the public every day of the year at no charge. Founded by Houston philanthropists Dominique and John de Menil, the Chapel was dedicated in 1971 as an interfaith, nonsectarian sanctuary, and invites visitors from around the world to experience the power and sanctity of Mark Rothko’s monumental paintings. The Rothko Chapel is an independent non-profit organization whose mission is to create opportunities for spiritual growth and dialogue that illuminate our shared humanity and inspire action leading to a world in which all are treated with dignity and respect.

Media Contact:

Elizabeth Kubany


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