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The birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) is usually a time when everyone reflects on King’s life, accomplishments, and in particular, the speeches he gave. It’s a day when activists in the social justice movement push to remind society of their responsibilities to the lesser among us, politicians speak on his legacy, and events are held all over the country to keep his memory alive.

One event taking place in Harlem today [Monday, January 18 2016] was #MLKNOW at Riverside Church. The event was hosted by Blackout for Human Rights, a network of artists, entertainers, advocates, spiritual leaders, educators and everyday people who bring light to various human rights violations to Americans. The event featured people like Chris Rock, Octavia Spencer, Anika N. Rose, J.Cole and director Ryan Coogler, to name a few. The event also featured various groups like Black Lives Matter, Black Alliance for Just Immigration, Arab American Association of New York, and the Million Hoodies Movement. It streamed live over the internet on The Riverside Church’s Livestream channel and will be available for future viewing.

One moment that was defining in King’s life was his historic speech at the church. The church is located on the very edge of Harlem, overlooking the Hudson River. It was the site where King gave his famous anti-war speech, “Beyond Vietnam, A Time To Break Silence.” In that speech, he laid out the reasons why he was against the Vietnam War and the costs the war had on American society and the world. The church has always been a haven for social justice and it was the perfect destination for King to choose to give his speech. The church continues that tradition with tonight’s #MLKNOW event.

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