Fifty years after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. politicians and celebrities are expected to revisit his dream of racial harmony, peace and tolerance during the annual convention of the National Action Network, a Civil Rights organization mobilized in tribute to his lifelong message of tolerance. The four-day convention begins on April 18 at the Sheraton Times Square Hotel in Manhattan.
A long list of dignitaries including Senators Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Tim Scott, Congressional representatives Sheila Jackson Lee, Nancy Pelosi, Al Green and New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy are among the guests expected to honor the legacy of the of the Nobel laureate and human rights advocate who was assassinated on April. 4, 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee.
The bi-partisan group of confirmed guests will likely extol the wonders of the southern Baptist minister who led protest rallies to dramatize the plight of a race disfranchised by a nation they helped to build.
Reverence and platitudes will prevail marking the significant milestone anniversary of the death of the revered leader. However, amidst receptions, luncheons and a special “Keeper of the Dream” dinner heralding MLK, throughout he four days, daily panel discussions will focus on the current state of the nation under the leadership of Donald Trump.
The very first serious topic slated for discussion asks:”What is the state of the union under Trump?’
Moderated by Rev. Al Sharpton, the president and founder of NAN, the first day panel will include: Jennifer Jones Austin, CEO of FPWA and author, Mayor Ras Baraka, of Newark, N.J.
Lee Saunders, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Nicolle Wallace, host of MSNBC’s “Deadline: White House” and Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT)
Through a one hour and a half hour dialogue a similar inquest will focus on “The state of American justice in the age of Trump?’
Immediately following the first commentary and discussion mixed by media, union representatives, author, and the Jersey mayor, NAN attorney Michael A. Hardy, will engage panelists Benjamin Crump, principal, Ben Crump Law, Donna Lieberman, executive director of New York Civil Liberties Union for a lively discussion.
That President Trump would command the lion-share of the first day’s discussion is further compounded by a Friday forum proposing conversation of “Advancing equal education in the era of Trump.”
Moderated by Florida, Cong. Frederica Wilson, panelists include Rev. Nelson B. Rivers, III Vice President, Religious Affairs, and External Relations, National Action Network; Nashonda Hunter, acting director, Charity Foundation director; Heather Foster, vice president, PreK-12 Education, Widmeyer Communications and David Johns, executive director, National Black Justice Coalition.
Former Attorney General Eric Holder is expected to address the assembly and may even make an important announcement regarding rumors of his bid to run for a highly-placed position on the national scene during the 2020 elections.
Promising to “speak truth to power,” the activist organization has also scheduled panels focusing on “Black Intellectuals,” “How to deal with the digital divide,” “Measuring the Movement,” “The Social Millennial,” “Has Social media weakened or strengthened our approach towards issues of today,” “Breaking the Silence,” “Addressing sexual assault and harassment in the Black community,” “The Black Church,” “2018 voter mobilization,” and will convene a mayors panel on prisoner reentry.
A conversation with film director Spike Lee and the cast of his new Netflix series is also planned.
In addition to the prolonged discussions, light-hearted presentations by Oscar and Grammy-winning rapper and activist Common as well as real talk from Susan Taylor, former Essence magazine’s editor in chief, TV commentators Angela Rye, Symone Sanders, Joy-Ann Reid and Chris Matthews.
Founded in 1991, NAN is one of the nation’s leading civil rights organizations boasting 40 chapters throughout the U.S. Its headquarters is located in Harlem.