On April 4, 1967, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stood in the pulpit at the Riverside Church in Harlem, New York, and delivered one of his most poignant speeches titled “Beyond Vietnam.” This year on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Blackout for Human Rights and The Campaign for Black Male Achievement will host the MLK Now 2017 event in the same room where Dr. King made those remarks fifty years ago.
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During the event, actors, activists, and musicians will pay homage to Dr. King with recitations of his most revered speeches, as well as musical performances. Among those who will participate in the event include David Oyelowo, Andre Holland, La La Anthony, Omari Hardwick, Olivia Wilde, Adepero Oduye, Michelle Williams, and Cleo Wade. There will be performances by gospel songstress Erica Campbell, Samora Pinderhughes, and the IMPACT Repertory Theater. There will also be a panel discussion moderated by Jamilah Lemieux, Vice President, News and Men’s Programming, Interactive One, that will delve into issues surrounding racial, economic, and social justice. Panel participants will include Dante Barry, Executive Director, Million Hoodies and Chicago Youth Activist FM Supreme.
According to the event organizers, MLK Now was designed to use Dr. King’s legacy as an avenue to bring attention to human and civil rights issues that society is confronted with today. “We felt it was essential to bring together all these amazing artists, advocates and organizers and community members to once more show our commitment to help raise awareness and find solutions to ensure that the human and civil rights of all Americans are affirmed and protected,” Rashid Shabazz, Vice President of Communications for the Campaign for Black Male Achievement, and co-founding member of Blackout for Human Rights, told NewsOne.
“This year will mark the 50th Anniversary of Dr. King’s Beyond Vietnam speech at Riverside Church. In that speech, King called for us to ‘move past indecision to action and find new ways to speak for peace,” Shabazz added. “And in no other time in recent history in our country has there been a greater need for all of us to come together to speak for peace, but to also live out the radical and revolutionary spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King who called for us all to build a beloved community, but also encouraged us to end the killing of Black men and women by police, who called for the rights of workers to receive a quality living wage and who called for the end of war and violence.”
Supporting partners for MLK Now 2017 include Color of Change, Black Lives Matter, Million Hoodies, ARRAY, MACRO Ventures, Dream Defenders, and Magnolia Pictures.
MLK Now 2017 will take place on January 16 from 2:00 p.m. through 6:00 p.m. at the Riverside Church. For more information, visit the Black Out For Human Rights website.