The life of American black rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr was celebrated in Kigali on Monday evening through an art exhibition to mark 50 years after the former clergyman made his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.
The U.S. Embassy in Kigali, in conjunction with the Rwandan arts community, hosted the art exhibition to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom that took place on August 28, 1963.
During the March, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech to tens of thousands of people gathered at the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
The exhibition at the U.S Deputy Chief of Mission Jessica Lapenn’s residence in Kiyovu, featured Rwandan artworks inspired by the speech.
“Earlier this year we were working on our celebration for the Independence Day, July 4, which we share with Rwanda and we were thinking that the 50 years anniversary is the most important thing that happened this year,” the Deputy Public Affairs Officer at the U.S embassy Benjamin Roode said.
Roode said there were two anniversaries celebrated this year- the Emancipation Proclamation, which President Abraham Lincoln signed in 1863, that would free the slaves in the south during the American Civil War and also the 50th anniversary of the “I Have a Dream” speech that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave at the March for Jobs and Peace in the Washington D.C.
Roode described the speech as so important and so iconic. It inspires people throughout the United States and the world at large.
“We asked ourselves, what was the best way to celebrate such an iconic speech that has inspired so many people – so we thought we should let the speech inspire artists in Rwanda. Let the artists determine how they are inspired when they hear those words. Let people focus on that kind of speech and communicate what they feel. And that’s what we saw here tonight,” he added.
The exhibition featured over 30 art pieces.
They were all expressions of what the “I Have a Dream” speech meant to the Rwandan artists.
Roode noted that it was amazing to see the cross-cultural exchange of both the American connection with Dr. King, but also the Rwandan experience interpreting what Dr. King had to say through the Rwandan history as well.
Despite the heavy rain, guests turned up in big numbers. The guest list included diplomatic corps, as well as high ranking government officials.