This Monday, on MLK’s birthday, we had the opportunity to attend a very important and monumental event called MLKNOW. Ryan Coogler, ‘Creed’ and ‘Fruitvale Station’ director and founder of Blackout for Human Rights, organized this event at the historic Riverside Church in Harlem, to bring awareness and recollection of the systemic issues in Black America. Many Hollywood actors and musicians came together to recite speeches from very prominent Civil Rights Activists including Martin Luther King’s last speech at Riverside. Harry Belafonte, one of Dr. King’s close friends, was in attendance. He talked about some of his moments with Dr. King and encouraged us to continue the fight Dr. King began for Black America.
The speeches were very relevant to the present day and reminded the audience of our need to not just sit back, but indeed take action in some way shape or form to make our society aware that these issues, such as mass incarceration and police brutality still exist. Each performer exuded such excellence in their deliveries that at times we thought we were listening to the actual person who wrote the speech. Actor Michael B. Jordan as Fred Hampton, wowed the audience with his ability to tap into Fred himself. Andre Holland, who’s voice eerily resembled Brother Malcolm, was indeed Malcolm X! Anika Noni Rose spoke so confidently as we would imagine Sojourner Truth would and Chris Rock, who memorized his entire speech, woke us up with the speech of James Baldwin. Watch his speech below.
Octavia Spencer, being the phenomonal actress that she is, ended the speech portion with Dr. King’s last speech of his life. Dr. King’s speech was such an encouragement and a reminder that when God has called you to something, you pursue it with all that you have, no matter the cost. Even when you feel inadequate and you feel you have no more to give, God equips you to continue. When your life is in jeopardy in order to do this thing that God called you to, it will not be in vain, but to have the courage to keep on! We left the event remembering not only Dr. King, but the many people that came before him and walked with him to lay the foundation to the life Black Americans are experiencing today. We should not only honor them, but rather mimic, or do even more, to see the change in our broken system and society.