Live at 6 | Annual MLK Dinner Recap
By Zachary Levine Syracuse, N.Y. (CitrusTV) – While remembrance and celebration were undertones throughout the 33rd Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Dinner on Sunday, it was a call to action from Keynote Speaker Angela Rye that impacted the crowd the most.
Angela Rye, a political commentator on CNN and NPR, came with a strong anti-Trump message that resonated with many of the attendees. The message was heard around the vast dining area set up on the Carrier Dome floor.
The theme for this year’s event was “Attention to Impact.” This was also a key message in Hendricks Chapel Dean Rev. Dr. Brian E. Konkol’s opening messages.
“We act to do our part in bending the arc of the universe,” said Konkol. “We act to express values and resist fears, we act to attention into impact.”
Song, dance, and awards filled the majority of the event schedule. An opening interpretive dance performance highlighted the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s struggles for justice in the Jim Crow South. The Black Celestial Choral Ensemble serenaded the audience, along with the 2018 Dr. King Community Choir, part of the Syracuse Community Choir. SU’s Black Legacy A Capella group also performed a melody of songs tailored to the theme of the evening.
While the melodies of the night succeeded in entertaining the crowd, the most serious message came from Angela Rye.
“In this country, power has been used to fuel oppression, which I would define as the ability to prevent purpose,” Rye said.
The majority of the speech focused on the theme of “Attention to Impact,” with Rye hashing out some of the reasons this country is in need of activists in the age of President Trump.
“But y’all’s president,” said Rye. “—y’all’s, ‘cause he’s not mine—isn’t just trying to undo the legacy of President Obama, but rather the very legacy of civil rights that Dr. King fought so hard, for, that all his comrades fought so hard for, that which even blazed the trail for there to even be a Barack Obama.”
Rye’s messages intended to spark action in the crowd, as she listed the many reasons she thought America has taken steps backwards in the struggle for equality.
“You want to build that wall, but wait until that wall hits your pocket real hard. You don’t want this truth. There’s an economic cost to bigotry,” Rye said, garnering a loud, satisfied reaction.
As if that not-too-subtle dig at President Trump wasn’t point-blank enough, the next comment Rye made was even more pointed.
“And now you have your president, Donald Trump, with that damn wall and shitholes for countries. That’s not my words, those are his words. It’s disgusting, it hurts every time I say it, but that’s what he said. The real shithole is his mouth.”