Mayor Vincent Gray declared “Poetry Extravaganza Day” in D.C. on Jan. 15 during a celebration at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library in the Great Hall. Sponsored by The Coalition for African Americans in the Performing Arts (C.A.A.P.A.), the 15th anniversary presentation featured readings and performances by some of the area’s finest poets. 

Featured prominently on the program was poetry ensemble Collective Voices, comprised of members Joy “Sista Joy” Matthews Alford, Sylvia Dianne “Ladi Di” Beverly, Andre “Brenardo” Taylor, Evette “Billye” Keene Okera, Carolyn Cooley-Joyner, Angela Boykin-Turnbull, Dyone Mitchell, Avery Lanier Tynes and Darrick “Bro. Malcolm” Johnson. The event’s emcee was Josephine Reed, managing producer, audio division at the National Endowment for the Arts and the Malcolm X Drummers and Dancers, founded by Doc Powell, provided accompaniment to the moving readings. Meanwhile, soprano Karen Wiggs-Wilbanks lent her soaring voice to the singing of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” and “If I Can Help Somebody.”  A reception and book signing followed the celebration. 

This special program celebrated the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in one of the many places named in his memory. Written statements of congratulations came from the mayor, Washington, D. C. poet laureate Dolores Kendrick, the Prince George’s Arts Council and the C.A.A.P.A. 

Committed to “bringing color to the classics” C.A.A.P.A works diligently to further King’s vision by offering the arts and classical music to the African-American community.  

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Patrick D. McCoy is an arts columnist and musician residing in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. His online column can be read at