TEXARKANA — Annually, the "African American Voice" program celebrates the life and vision of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., but that is not possible this year.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, this year's 20th annual event will go online with a great past performance to see. Subtitled "An Evening of Performance with Special Moments for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.," the program this year is one from nine years ago.
The African American Committee for the Texarkana Regional Arts and Humanities Council will present the 2012 program featuring Regina Lenoir and her brother Michael Hudson at the group's website, ttowntouch.org. Once there, click on that specific program, TAAC urges.
TAAC's Teretha Harper calls that Lenoir and Hudson performance a show stopper.
"This year of course with the virus, we couldn't come together to prepare a program. Our programs have always been the city-wide opening event for Dr. Martin Luther King's birthday celebration, and so then I thought, well, we have some recorded programs," Harper said.
Looking through the inventory of programs, she thought the 11th annual program would be suitable.
"When I thought about it, that was a night in which in we went and filled all of the chairs in Cabe Hall. It was a packed house and some people still had to stand in the corners," Harper said.
The brother-sister combo was a new duo here in Texarkana and as professional performers they do an excellent job, she said.
"They prepared a program especially around the theme to highlight Dr. King's legacy," Harper said, adding, "We're highlighting that one because of their gift to us on that night."
Dr. King's message has relevance for the times we're living in now when so many people are facing health complications and quarantines during the pandemic, she said.
"It's another struggle to be sure that everyone has equal rights. Another one of those struggles. His work is still fighting for three things: civility, decency and humanity. The work is still to be done. The healthcare issue now has really come to the forefront, and the social justice really has come to the forefront since dealing with the pandemic," Harper said. "Those three words are still at stake: civility, decency and humanity."
If King were to hear the performers from 2012 and the music the singers selected, it would be appropriate, songs such as "We Shall Overcome," she said.
"It was a packed, packed house. Everyone was so reflective and thoughtful, quiet yet responsive. Even the children. Even the children were not restless. They were listening," Harper recalled of that performance.
The performance will be featured online through January, and then in February it will change to a new program. Also coming up for TAAC is an art exhibit at the Regional Arts Center.
(More info: TTownTouch.org.)