Who would have thought that in 2016 we would still be fighting against racism, classicism and the continued disregard for the talents and contributions of black people to the world. In fact, the fight for equality seems just as prevalent in 2016 as it was in 1968 when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was slain on a balcony in Memphis, Tennessee. Yesterday was a day to honor him. It was a day to refocus on his dream and what needs to be done to keep it alive. It was a day where entertainers including comedian Chris Rock, actors Harry Belafonte, Octavia Spencer, Michael B. Jordan, musical artists India Arie, J. Cole, Jussie Smollett and numerous others joined hundreds of people to pay tribute to Dr. King and other civil rights leaders. The event touted as “#MLKNOW” was sponsored by Blackout for Human Rights and the Campaign for Black Male Achievement and was held last night at the Riverside Church in Manhattan where Dr. King delivered his historical sermon opposing the Vietnam War in 1967.
The event which lasted 5 hours included musical performances, renditions of some of the most inspirational speeches, poems and monologues from civil right leaders and activists such as Dr. King, James Baldwin, Malcom X, Ida B. Wells and Shirley Chisholm, as well a panel moderated by MSNBC National Reporter Trymaine Lee. Panelists included director Ryan Coogler, actress Tessa Thompson, rapper J. Cole, Urban Cusp founder and publisher Rahiel Tesfamariam, Arab-American Association of New York executive director Linda Sarsour, Million Hoodies Movement for Justice executive director Dante Barry, filmmaker and Sakofa.org co-director Gina Belafonte and activist Leon Ford, Jr.
The event was much more than an MLK tribute. According to the event organizers, it was meant not only to celebrate King’s legacy but also to provide a discussion on how to keep his dream of racial harmony alive in 2016. The event was streamed live, but if you missed it you can watch it below and check out a few flicks from the event as well.