MLK Jr. Day Special Program: Exploring Direct Action, from Then to Now

January 21, 2019 / 11:00am3:30pm

Free & open to all


We invite you to spend Martin Luther King Jr. Day at moCa, learning, making, and sharing experiences based on direct action. The following offerings are free and open to all.

11am – 12:30pm

Deconstructing Dr. King, America's Prophet of Nonviolence

A Teach-In with Dr. Hasan Kwame Jeffries

Fifty years after the assassination of  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., his nonviolent approach to change remains as relevant as ever. This lecture and discussion will explore Dr. King’s understanding of nonviolence, his critique of economic inequality and racial injustice, and his use of nonviolent direct action to foment change.

12:30 – 1:30pm

Affirmative Political Sign-Making 

This interactive art-making activity will show how you can use words and art to express the positive change that you want to see in your community and our world. 

1:30 – 3:30pm

Protest, Petition, and Civil Disobedience: A For Freedoms Town Hall (Freedom of Expression)

Panelists: M. Carmen Lane (artist and activist); Emma Sulkowicz (artist, Carry that Weight); Shakyra Diaz (Alliance for Safety and Justice); Moderated by Dan Moulthrop (The City Club of Cleveland)

This special For Freedoms Town Hall explores the various methods and related outcomes of peaceful protest today. From raising a fist or taking a knee during the National Anthem to organizing marches to creating obstructive performances that draw attention to serious issues, our panelists will share their goals and challenges around non-violent direct action. The discussion will explore both sanctioned approaches like petitioning as well as non-endorsed, even penalized activities as individual and collective ways to effect change. We invite participants from the community to come listen, ask questions, share their experiences of this critical aspect of our democracy.


Major support provided by

Margaret Cohen and Kevin Rahilly and Char and Chuck Fowler


Community support provided by 


Panelists and Speakers

Dr. Hasan Kwame Jeffries

Dr. Hasan Kwame Jeffries is Associate Professor of History at The Ohio State University where he teaches graduate and undergraduate courses on the civil rights movement and African American protest. Hasan was born in Brooklyn, New York, and graduated summa cum laude from Morehouse College with a BA in history in 1994. He earned a MA in American history in 1997 and a PhD in American history with a specialization in African American history in 2002 from Duke University. He taught for a year that the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, before joining the faculty at The Ohio State University in 2003. In 2009, Hasan published Bloody Lowndes: Civil Rights and Black Power in Alabama’s Black Belt (NYU Press). He is also the editor of Understanding and Teaching the Civil Rights Movement (University of Wisconsin Press, forthcoming), a collection of essays on how to teach the civil rights movement. Hasan has worked on several public history projects. He served as the lead historian and primary scriptwriter for the five-year, $27 million renovation of the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Hotel in Memphis, Tennessee, the site of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He also hosts the podcast “Teaching Hard History: American Slavery,” a production of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance Project.


M. Carmen Lane

M. Carmen Lane, MSOD is a two:spirit African-American and Haudenosaunee (Mohawk/Tuscarora) Cleveland based artist, cultural worker, poet, popular educator, leadership coach, diversity practitioner and organizational effectiveness consultant.Their work has been published in numerous journals and anthologies including the Lambda Literary Award nominated Sovereign Erotics: A Collection of Two Spirit Literatures. Carmen’s first collection of poetry is Calling Out After Slaughter (GTK Press, 2015). They are the founder and director of ATNSC: Center for Healing & Creative Leadership, an urban retreat center and experiment in holistic health, leadership development and Indigenous arts and culture located in the historic Buckeye neighborhood. Carmen is a member of NTL Institute for Applied Behavioral Science and Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers.

Emma Sulkowicz

Emma Sulkowicz is gender non-binary and uses the gender neutral pronoun "they." They are an American artist of Japanese-Chinese-Jewish descent who lives and makes art in their hometown, New York City. They earned a BFA in Visual Arts from Columbia University in 2015, studied studio art in the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program, and were the recipient of the 2018 Museum of Arts and Design Van Lier Fellowship. They are perhaps best known for their senior thesis at Columbia University -- "Mattress Performance (Carry That Weight)" -- an endurance performance artwork in which they carried a dorm mattress everywhere on Columbia's campus for as long as they attended the same school as their attacker. Their awards include the National Organization for Women’s Woman of Courage Award (2016) and Susan B. Anthony Award (2014), the United States Student Association’s National Student Movement Builder of the Year Award (2015), and the Feminist Majority Foundation and Ms. Magazine’s Ms. Wonder Award (2015).

Shakyra Diaz

Shakyra Diaz is a strategist with extensive public policy and organizing experience grounded in authentic coalition building.  Shakyra plays a crucial leadership role in building the national membership of Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice (CSSJ), leading the effort to develop online and offline platforms for organizing and community-building and coordinating efforts with Alliance for Safety and Justice’s campaigns. Shakyra joined ASJ in 2016 as the Regional Director for the Midwest region, where she provided leadership for advocacy campaigns in the Midwest, resulting in criminal justice reforms and the establishment of trauma recovery centers to help underserved crime survivors heal. Prior to joining ASJ, Shakyra worked as an educator and led policy reform campaigns. In these different capacities, Shakyra enhanced educational outcomes for students and led successful policy, legislative, and judicial rules campaigns to improve justice systems. Her efforts have led to the elimination of unfair drug law policies, enhanced protections for sexual assault victims during interviews, expanded access to counsel, supported voting rights access for currently and formerly incarcerated people, and ended routine juvenile shackling in courts. Drawing on her personal experience with sexual and community violence and her understanding of various systems, Shakyra helped shape systemic recommendations for reform efforts, including the Cleveland Division of Police’s consent decree. Shakyra is a graduate of Case Western Reserve University and lives in Cleveland, Ohio with her family.