Celebs Perform Speeches at NYC Church to Honor MLK Day

Comedian Chris Rock and actors Octavia Spencer and Michael B. Jordan joined hundreds of people Monday night at a historic church to pay tribute to the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The event, known as #MLKNow, was held at the Riverside Church in Manhattan. In November 1967, King delivered a sermon to the congregation expressing his views opposing the Vietnam War. Composer and Tony Award-winner Lin Manuel Miranda recited a portion of the speech to a packed audience inside the church Monday.

"They're not here to entertain us," said Shawn Dove, CEO of the Campaign for Black Male Achievement, which helped organize the event, "they're here to ignite us. We are all hungry for the energy, for the change."

The event, organizers said, was meant not only to celebrate King's legacy but also to provide a discussion on how to continue his message or racial harmony in today's climate.

Rock, Spencer and Jordan were among about a dozen entertainers to recite historical passages by civil rights pioneers, including Malcom X, Ida B. Wells and Shirley Chisholm. The event also featured musical performances and a panel discussion with artists and community activists.

Singer and activist Harry Belafonte, who recalled his work in the civil rights movement in the 1960s when he was in his 20s and meeting with King days before his death, said work still needs to be done as a movement continues for equal rights.

"We will never give in to the oppression," he said. "If we can fix America, we will indeed have fixed most of the ills of the world."

Elsewhere, Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke at a Brooklyn tribute to King and workers from LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy International airports rallied with community leaders as part of a national civil disobedience action protesting inequality at airports around the country.

Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo spoke at the Rev. Al Sharpton's National Action Network's annual King public policy forum before briefly marching with activists.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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