The star-studded event took the audience –– made up of mostly men of Alpha Phi Alpha, Dr. King’s fraternity, and their families –– through the life of the civil rights leader using song and the acting talents of the likes of actor and author Hill Harper, actor Terrance Howard, actresses Victoria Rowell, Dawn Lewis and more.
The event was one of the few celebrations during the weekend that was meant to dedicate the new Martin Luther King, Jr. Monument on the National Mall in Washington D.C. that actually went on despite Hurricane Irene’s descent on the East Coast.
The stars not deterred by a little water on this historic Friday night included Phylicia Rashad (who brought her children and grandchildren with her to witness the event), Della Reese, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Dawn Lewis, Nancy Wilson, Bern Nadette Stanis, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Jasmine Guy, Omari Hardwick and Jennifer Holliday, to name a few.
GlossMagazineOnline (GMO) was on the Gold Carpet and asked a few of the stars there to honor the man credited for helping African Americans gain equal rights in this country, allowing them to be the artists they are today, why it was important for them to be in D.C. that summer night.
“This is a monumental occasion for us to celebrate a great man who changed our lives and changed the face of America and all over the world,” said actress Jasmine Guy who went on to call Dr. King a “global” figure and “the son of the whole world.”
When asked why it was so important for her to be at the celebration, legendary singer Nancy Wilson said: “If it was important enough for me to be in Selma to march, it was important enough for me to be in Washington to march. The least I can do is be here when they show him the honor he deserves.”
Singer Lalah Hathaway called it an “honor” to be at the event as a daughter of an Alpha (the late great Donny Hathaway) and to be able to pay tribute to those who came before her. “Part of what I do is pay tribute to those that came before me, to pay homage,” she said.
Actress Victoria Rowell, who played a young Coretta Scott King being courted by her future husband in the production, said it was so important for her to participate in the celebration of MLK not only for the man himself, but in honor of her foster mother who taught her to “never take no for an answer.” “I am a beneficiary of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and First Lady Coretta Scott King.”
The site of the monument was approved back in 1999, but the idea for the monument began in 1983 with the brothers of Dr. King’s fraternity working diligently over the years to secure Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. a place in the “halls” of great leaders of America.
According to MLKMemorial.Org, the site of the memorial creates a visual "line of leadership" from the Lincoln Memorial, where Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his famous "I Have a Dream" speech, to the Jefferson Memorial.
“It’s important to pay recognition to the Alphas who made this memorial possible. It’s so great that Martin Luther King was an Alpha and that his brothers saw fit to fight for so many years to get this memorial on the mall,” said BET’s Debra Lee.
The monument, located at 1964 Independence Ave. SW, in the northeast corner of the Tidal Basin (adjacent to the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial and between the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials), is currently open to the public, although the official dedication was postponed until Oct. 16. To take a virtual tour of the monument and to learn more, visit www.mlkmemorial.org.
More videos of the interviews from the Gold Carpet will be posted on the GlossMagazineOnline Facebook Fanpage.