Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Speeches & Songs From The January 18, 2016 #MLKnow Event

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post provides information about the #MLKnow event which was held on January 18, 2016 in Harlem, New York City. Three readings and two song performances from that event are showcased in this post.

The content of this post is presented for historical, cultural, and aesthetic purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to all those who organized and participated in this event. Thanks also to the video publishers of this event on YouTube.

Ryan Coogler's #MLKNOW Event Was The Pinnacle Of Art And Activism
It was a beautiful look at the past, present, and future of black Hollywood. by Zeba Blay, 01/19/2016
"Hollywood, please take note.

Yesterday, inside Harlem's historic Riverside Church, history was made. Ryan Coogler, director of "Creed" and founder of the activist collective Black Out For Human Rights, organized an inspiring array of black Hollywood talent to recite powerful speeches from Civil Rights heroes, in honor of Martin Luther King Day.

The event, called #MLKNOW, was not intended as an answer to the unbearable whiteness of Hollywood, but rather an opportunity to bring awareness to police violence, mass incarceration, and the need for systemic change. Still, it couldn't have been more poignantly timed. It came just one week after Oscar nomination announcements rekindled the #OscarSoWhite hashtag. It was, unintentionally, the perfect antidote to the complete lack of diversity of this year's noms...

Watching the livestream of #MLKNOW on Monday evening was to watch an overwhelming expression of black excellence. Of black power. One by one, talented actors and musicians took to the podium to recite rousing, moving, and eerily relevant speeches from some of the greatest black minds of the last hundred years...

Boycotting the Oscars might be one way to get the message across, but what made #MLKNOW such a powerful response to Hollywood and kingmaking institutions like the Academy Awards was its dignified subtlety. Here were a dozen great black actors who were using their talent to effect real change in their own community and, while doing so, they called out the hypocrisy of Hollywood. Coogler and company proved that #OscarsSoWhite isn't just a ridiculous byproduct of Hollywood's exclusion of black talent -- it's Hollywood's greatest shame. And they did so, simply by existing in their brilliance.
A video of the entire show is given with that article.

These examples are given in no particular order.

Example #1: Chris Rock MLKnow - Reading Of James Baldwin "My Dungeon Shook"

LesGrossman2016 Published on Jan 18, 2016

Chris Rock brought down a packed house in Harlem’s Riverside Church with an impassioned reading from James Baldwin as part of the day-long MLKNow celebration on Martin Luther King Day. The event brought together a who’s-who of African-American activists and celebrities including Harry Belafonte, Octavia Spencer, Jussie Smollett, Lin Manuel Miranda and Anika Noni Rose. Rock took the stage and read from Baldwin’s 1963 “My Dungeon Shook,” expressing what it is like to live as a black man in white America.

“My Dungeon Shook” is a letter written to Baldwin’s nephew — also named James — where he encourages his nephew to not give up hope. “Well, the black man has functioned in the white man’s world as a fixed star, as an immovable pillar: and as he moves out of his place, heaven and earth are shaken to their foundations. You, don’t be afraid. I said that it was intended that you should perish in the ghetto, perish by never being allowed to go behind the white man’s definitions, by never being allowed to spell your proper name. You have, and many of us have, defeated this intention; and, by a terrible law, a terrible paradox, those innocents who believed that your imprisonment made them safe are losing their grasp of reality,” Baldwin wrote. “But these men are your brothers—your lost, younger brothers. And if the word integration means anything, this is what it means: that we, with love, shall force our brothers to see themselves as they are, to cease fleeing from reality and begin to change it. For this is your home, my friend, do not be driven from it; great men have done great things here, and will again, and we can make America what America must become.”
This summary was reformatted for this post.
Example #2: India Arie Sings I Am Light #MLKNow

Broadway Black Published on Jan 19, 2016

The free #MLKNow event by @UnitedBlackout gave some stellar performances and speeches. Including this performance by India Arie with two special guests she did not rehearse with singing I Am Light

Example #3: Andre Holland Recites Malcolm X Speech #MLKNOW

Paul Fant, Published on Jan 19, 2016

Example #4: Jesse Smollett Performs Strange Fruit at #MLKNOW

Paul Fant, Published on Jan 19, 2016

Example #5: Condola Rashad Reads Shirley Chisholm's Presidential Campaign Announcement of 1972

Broadway BlackPublished on Jan 19, 2016

The free #MLKNow event by @UnitedBlackout gave some stellar performances and speeches. Including this speech by Shirley Chisholm from her Presidential Campaign Announcement of 1972 read by Condola Rashad

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