What to Watch Instead of He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named’s Inauguration

If you plan to join the thousands (if not millions) of people across the U.S. in boycotting the soon-to-be-President of this doomed United States’ inauguration, you’re likely seeking out counter-programming to drown out the 24-hour news and social media hell that comes along with it. Thankfully there are alternatives to this Orangeade onslaught that will not only keep you distracted, but that offer some beacon of light, hope and inspiration, which will no doubt come in handy over the next four (or more, but for God’s mercy, I hope not) years.

This past Monday (MLK Day) more than 3,000 people gathered at The Riverside Church in Harlem, New York for the 2nd Annual “MLK Now” hosted by Blackout for Human Rights and the Campaign for Black Male Achievement (CBMA), with presenting partners Sankofa.org and PICO National Network. The special program, which was also live broadcast online, celebrated the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., exploring through speeches, musical performances, and a panel discussion how his message and vision continue to resonate in today’s racial, social and political landscape.

Held in the same sanctuary where Dr. King performed his famous 1967 speech “Beyond Vietnam: A Time To Break Silence,” the free event was MC’d by Author/Comedian/Political Satirist Baratunde Thurston (who, despite battling the flu, commanded the stage and kept the program flowing) and featured historic speeches delivered by some of today’s leading actors/influencers (with video time stamps from the live stream):

· Actor David Oyelowo’s (“SELMA”, “A UNITED KINGDOM”) rousing performance of James Baldwin’s “American Dream/American Negro” (51:20)

Photo Credit: The Riverside Church

· Emmy-Winning Actress Uzo Aduba’s (“ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK”) inspiring delivery of Nelson Mandela’s 1963 “Rivonia” trial speech (2:39:24)

Photo Credit: Alysha Menakaya

· Actor Andre Holland’s (“MOONLIGHT”) electric channeling of Malcolm X for his speech “The Ballot or the Bullet” (3:51:30)

Photo Credit: Alysha Menakaya

· Hip Hop Pioneer/Artist/Producer & Actor Q-Tip’s performance of Langston Hughes’ “Let America Be America Again” (1:20:46)

Photo Credit: Alysha Menakaya

· Actress/Best-Selling Author La La Anthony (“POWER; “DOUBLE PLAY”) recalls Muhammad Ali’s 1967 speech at Howard University (2:32:39)

Photo Credit: Alysha Menakaya

· Actress Olivia Wilde (“VINYL”) paying personal homage to First Lady Michelle Obama while delivering FLOTUS’ 2016 speech “When They Go Low, We Go High” (3:27:07)

Photo Credit: Alysha Menakaya

· Actress Adepero Oduye (“PARIAH; 12 YEARS A SLAVE”) returning for the second year to perform MLK Jr.’s “America is Going to Hell Unless…” (38:47)

Photo Credit: Alysha Menakaya

· Actor Omari Hardwick (“POWER”) advocating for gender equality with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s “We Should All Be Feminists” (3:09:15)

Photo Credit: Alysha Menakaya

· Singer/Songstress and Actress Michelle Williams (DESTINY’S CHILD) paying tribute to a Black feminist icon by reading Audre Lorde’s “The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action” (3:01:09)

Photo Credit: Alysha Menakaya

Poet/Artist Cleo Wade opening the program with a recitation of Maya Angelou’s “Abundant Hope” (32:46)

Photo Credit: Alysha Menakaya

“MLK Now 2017” also featured musical performances by Mary Mary’s Erica Campbell (1:01:21), Vocalist/Performer Imani Uzuri (3:18:52), Oakland-based Hip-Hop/Jazz/Soul Ensemble SOL Development (3:38:29), and selections from pianist/composer Samora Abayomi Pinderhughes’ critically-acclaimed album “Transformations Suite,” which was played in sections throughout the program. A special surprise video message was given by Athlete/Activist Colin Kaepernick (2:37:47).

Erica Campbell (Photo Credit: Alysha Menakaya)
Vocalist/Artist Imani Uzuri (Photo Credit: Alysha Menakaya)
Hip Hop/Jazz/Soul Ensemble SOL Development (Photo Credit: The Riverside Church)
Pianist/Composer Samora Pinderhughes and Performers Deliver selections from “Transformations Suite” (Photo Credit: The Riverside Church)
Athlete/Activist Colin Kaepernick gives surprise video message the audience/viewers (Photo Credit: The Riverside Church)
MC Baratunde Thurston (Photo Credit: Alysha Menakaya)

In addition to the performances, “MLK Now 2017” featured a panel conversation (1:38:19) with national and community activists, organizers and thought leaders including Media/Political Thought-Leader and Interactive One Vice President Jamilah Lemieux (Co-Moderator); Activist and Director of PICO National Network’s Live Free Campaign Pastor Michael McBride (Co-Moderator); Million Hoodies Executive Director Dante Barry and Chicago Youth Peace Activist FM Supreme to address issues of racial, social and economic justice.

Photo Credit: Alysha Menakaya

“This year marks the 50th Anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Beyond Vietnam speech at The Riverside Church, in which he called for us to ‘move past indecision to action and find new ways to speak for peace,” said Rashid Shabazz, Co-Founding Member of Blackout for Human Rights, and VP of Communications for CBMA.

Rashid Shabazz, Co-Founding Member of Blackout for Human Rights, and VP of Communications for CBMA (Photo Credit: The Riverside Church)

“At no other time in our country’s recent history has there been a greater need for all of us to come together to speak for peace, and also to live out the radical and revolutionary spirit of Dr. King, and bring to life the words of these phenomenal iconic writers and leaders who have provided us with a blueprint for a more just and humane society.”

MLK Now Production Team (Photo Credit: The Riverside Church)

Additional supporting partners for #MLKNow 2017 include Magnolia Pictures, ARRAY, MACRO Ventures, Dream Defenders, Black Lives Matter, Color of Change, and Million Hoodies.

To watch the full broadcast of “MLK Now 2017, visit https://livestream.com/trcnyc/mlknow2017 or watch it below: