The 2018 Community MLK Celebration commenced Tuesday night with MSNBC’s Joy Reid as the keynote speaker.
Joy Reid hosts the cable network’s “The Reid Report” and “AM Joy.” She is also the author of “Fracture: Barack Obama, the Clintons and the Racial Divide,” a novel that provides social commentary on race relations.
The sold out event took place at The Paramount Theater on the downtown mall as the audience gathered to remember the legacy of prominent civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
The evening began with a welcome address from the UVa Vice President and Chief Officer for Diversity & Equity, Dr. Marcus L. Martin. Dr. Martin was followed by The Knightingales, a choir group from Charlottesville High School who moved the crowd with their musical selection of “Hope Is”.
Douglas Blackmon, the Director of Public Programs, introduced Joy Reid who was received by the audience with a standing ovation.
The eager crowd continued to cheer for Reid and as she waited for the applause to settle, she joked: “What if the speech isn’t that good?”
In her address, Reid discussed the history of racial discourse in America and opened with an acknowledgment of the slaves who built The Paramount Theater, the event venue.
Joy Reid also reflected on Dr. King’s visit to UVa in the early 1960s. During this time, MLK was regarded as such a controversial figure that Cabell Hall was barely filled.
She remembered King’s visit at UVa took a terrifying turn when a loud sound erupted. Wesley Harris, an African American student who was walking UVa’s grounds with King feared it was an assassination attempt.
Once King and his hosts learned it was just the backfiring of passing car however, King made an eerie statement: “Yeah, it’s going to happen to me sometime.”
Reid also spoke critically throughout her speech of current affairs such as the election of President Donald Trump and the Unite the Right rally that took place in August.
The address concluded as Reid read excerpts of Barack Obama’s “Yes We Can” speech. She ended on a positive note, calling for hope and unity.
Afterwards, Joy Reid and Douglas Blackmon hosted a Q&A with the audience and Dr. Marcus Martin closed the night. Reid met with fans and signed their books in the The Paramount’s lobby.
For the full schedule of events during the Community MLK Celebration, click here.