The community is invited to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2021 with Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre and Studio 5 at 7 p.m. on Jan. 18 with “The Shifting Narrative.”

Five young, gifted, and Black Evanstonians will have a spirited, thoughtful conversation about social and racial justice and the evolution of activism in Evanston and in America.

Nolan Robinson Jr., ETHS alum and current Northwestern University senior, will be host to panelists Katia Bell, Sarah Bogan, Alexis Harris-Dyer, and Kara Roseborough. These five represent the larger community of young Black Evanston change-makers who are illuminating the road ahead at a moment of reckoning about racial injustice exposed by COVID-19.

“One exciting aspect of being the moderator for this event is that my position allows me to present these voices and stories to the Evanston community and allows those watching to discover and learn from what they may not have known about racial inequalities within their own backyard. I will also get to be inspired … and changed by the four wonderful Black women I get to speak with,” Mr. Robinson told the RoundTable.

On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, the conversation sometimes begins and ends with the integral part of U.S. history that is known as the Civil Rights Movement led by Dr. King. The words and actions of young Black Evanston activists reveal that they believe the fight for racial justice is far from over and are among those at the forefront of the racial justice movement happening here and now. 

“Nationally, we have these moments every year, whether it be Martin Luther King Jr. Day or Black History Month, where we reflect on the past and present fights for civil and equal rights. While these moments are beautiful, I also feel like they can promote complacency,” Ms. Roseborough told the RoundTable.

“For many, the only times when they think about the Civil Rights Movement, the injustice against Black lives, or why we even have Martin Luther King Jr. Day is within these designated moments. We see that in the hyper-awareness in our nation after the murder of an innocent Black life at the hands of the police. That’s when people tune in.

“The work that needs to be done exists outside of these moments, which is one of the many things we’ll be focusing on in our panel discussion. The people driving that constant work are shifting it to those of us coming into adulthood and coming into our individual and collective power,” she added.

Ms. Bogan and Ms. Bell also shared their thoughts about serving as panelists for “The Shifting Narrative.”

“I think this panel … will foster many important conversations about what’s happening in the country and right here in Evanston. My biggest hope is that people tune in and hear about an issue they weren’t aware of before — or know about but aren’t doing anything to help, and then go out and learn more and get involved in making change. Activism has always been so important, and sometimes it can feel like it has to be a huge accomplishment or march in order to make a difference, when in reality, small steps each day go a long way,” said Ms. Bogan.

Ms. Bell focused on the interconnectedness of the past, present, and future of the struggle for human and civil rights in America.

“When I Googled the meaning of ‘narrative,’ it stated ‘a spoken or written account of connected events; a story.’ Although we are shifting the narrative, we will never forget the stories told before our own. The stories before our own need to be told to understand why we’re in the position we are in today, whether it is good or bad. We continue to unite and build on one another’s life perspectives to tell a new view of what is currently happening in the world. The stories we have will never end but will be the beginning of a story for the next generation,” said Ms. Bell.

“The Shifting Narrative” can be seen the Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre Facebook Page and YouTube Channel.


Heidi Randhava

Heidi Randhava is an award winning reporter who has a deep commitment to community engagement and service. She has written for the Evanston RoundTable since 2016.