“Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty we are free at last,” those mighty words of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. were heard throughout the Sarah Vaughan Concert Hall on Thursday evening at Newark Symphony Hall. Mayor Ras J. Baraka and the City of Newark presented the 29th annual Sing in Praise of King.
The night was filled with moving speeches, music, dancing, poetry, and prayers. As guests were seated, a tributary video of Dr. King’s life projected over the stage helping guests remember Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement. Rabbi Jesse M. Olitzky of Congregation Beth El opened the night with a prayer. Mayor Baraka spoke about the importance of fighting for social justice before introducing the keynote speaker, Dr. Marc Lamont Hill, a professor of African American Studies at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia.
Mayor Ras Baraka’s opening remarks consisted of slavery, Jim Crow laws, encouraging resistance to President Donald Trump’s policies, resistance to white supremacy, and the work of Dr. King. He encouraged the crowd to keep fighting for the rights that every American deserves. “Hit down, hit hard, hit quick, and keeping hitting until we win,” said Mayor Baraka.
“Everything we fought for is up for grabs again,” exclaimed Dr. Marc Lamont Hill while he encouraged the crowd to peacefully resist against the Trump administration.
“The biggest problem in the world today is that there are too many people that don’t do anything,” said Hill.
“Where is your heart,” he asked the crowd. He prompted attendees to look into their hearts and find the truth in which they can fight for to make a difference.
In between speeches and a spoken word by Purple, were musical performances by Grammy Award winning Gospel recording group The Mighty Clouds of Joy and Stellar award winning Gospel recording artist Tye Tribbett. The performances got the crowd on their feet, singing and dancing along with the modern Gospel music. The energy in the grand concert hall was tangible as the members of Mighty Clouds of Joy came down off of the stage and engaged with the audience. Tye Tribbett made the evening feel like Church on Sunday morning.
The event was closed with a prayer, which praised God of all faiths. The prayer ended the 29th annual Sing in Praise of King with the encouragement of activism and inclusion for people of all races, religions, genders, and sexual orientations.
Take a look at the official gallery for the 29th annual Sing In Praise of King event posted below.
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