Martin Luther King, Jr. celebrated at BlackRock Center for the Arts 'SAY IT LOUD! PLAY IT LOUD!' event

Say it loud, play it loud: That was one of many themes happening across the DMV commemorating and celebrating the extraordinary life and Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 

At the BlackRock Center for The Arts in Germantown, an extra special celebration was held Saturday. 

MLK Jr.’s role in the Civil Rights Movement is celebrated every January and this year, the commemoration Day falls on Dr. King's actual birthday. 

If he were alive today, King would be turning 95 years old.

Montgomery County has a long history of honoring the legacy of Dr. King and this weekend’s events all across the county will be honoring his life through arts, music, film and service.

At the SAY IT LOUD! PLAY IT LOUD! event at the BlackRock Center, organizers have broadened the scope of the original SAY IT LOUD Film Festival concept to incorporate the musical soul of the movement by adding the PLAY IT LOUD!

"We can celebrate, commemorate but also really unify and come together in a space that allows us to be creatively free and have conversation and community," said Kelly Chauncey, the Artist Director at the Blackrock Center.


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The reverend and civil rights icon would have turned 95 this year.

The full day of free programming to celebrate the life of MLK Jr. included featured films that "amplify the voices of not only MLK but other groundbreaking icons of the Civil Rights Era & Movement as well."

"It is a long complicated beautiful history and there is a lot of pain and there is a lot of joy and I think that is what this day all about: say it loud, play it loud. It’s really a celebration of people who have been oppressed and have found joy despite oppression," said Joshua Gamma, the Gallery Director at Blackrock Center for the Arts.

The event also featured two art exhibitions, a record fair, DJs and an evening ticketed concert.

"There is archival documents in all of these paintings, statistics, poetry, history, philosophy and if you look closely he’s layering these things, he ripping them off. He’s burning the top of it so a lot of it you can just feel the visceral processing of the beauty and struggle of Black life and Black history," Gamma said. 

Organizers say the event is about lifting the voices and stories of the silenced, whose vision, passion, beliefs and contributions are forever etched into American history. 

"And that’s really what Blackrock is about it’s about bringing a community together from diverse pockets and bring them under one roof to just say it loud and play it loud," Chauncy said.