When Greatness Speaks, You Listen: The #MLKNow Moments That Moved Us The Most

Events

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is more than just a day to temporarily chuck the deuces to 9 to 5s nationwide. It’s a day to reflect on the service that the distinguished pastor and civil rights icon did for his people. This year, in particular, in the cozy sanctuary of Harlem’s Riverside Church, it was to honor King and other icons past and present who were also touched by the spirit of change.

On Jan. 18, more than 2,000 people filled the sanctuary for MLK Now, an event hosted by Blackout for Human Rights and the Campaign for Black Male Achievement (CBMA). The program consisted of the music, panel discussions, and the recitation of poignant speeches from Dr. King, Malcolm X, SoJourner Truth, Fred Hampton, Shirley Chisholm, Ida B. Wells, James Baldwin, Angela Davis and Patrice Lumumba. The treat here? The speeches were delivered by a star studded roster—Lin-Manuel Miranda, Anika Noni Rose, Michael B. Jordan, Condola Rashad, Adepero Oduye, Chris Rock, Tessa Thompson, Andre Holland, Octavia Spencer and the legendary Harry Belafonte all graced the podium.

Additionally, India.Arie, Anika Noni Rose, Bilal, Saul Williams, Karenga Bailey, Samore Pinderhughes, Jeremie Harris, Christopher Jackson and surprise guest Jussie Smollett took the mic with musical deliveries of their own.

In between the speeches, performances and impromptu artist talk between J. Cole and the event’s master of ceremonies Ryan Coogler—the Creed director accidentally (and adorably) blabbed that Cole is a married man—there were plenty of gems to take home. VIBE was on hand to witness a tiny piece of history as it unfolded. Flip through to see the moments that stirred us the most. —Stacy-Ann Ellis, Iyana Robertson, Camille Augustin and Shenequa Golding