Editor’s note: This article has been updated to include tweeted photos at the end of this article.
A Christian rapper, a popular Evangelical Bible teacher, and a descendant of Confederate General Robert E. Lee were among those expected to march alongside family members of Martin Luther King, Jr. in the “March for Humanity,” an event commemorating the 50th anniversary of the civil rights leader’s assassination.
Hip-hop artist Lecrae, Bible teacher Beth Moore, and the Rev. Rob Lee were among those slated to march with the Rev. Bernice King and other “people of goodwill across the nation and from around the world” on a path similar to the funeral procession for Dr. King on Monday, April 9 in Atlanta, Georgia.
“Join me Monday for @TheKingCenter’s #MarchForHumanity!” King tweeted last Friday, adding that Lecrae, Moore, and Lee would also be marching. Former NFL athlete Donté Stallworth, African-American Muslim activist Blair Imani, and Tamika D. Mallory, national co-chair for the Women’s March, were also noted as participants.
Alex Moscou, a survivor of the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and Trevon Bosley, a 19-year-old activist who lost his brother to gun violence in Chicago, were cited in King’s tweet as well. Moscou and Bosley were among student activists who participated in the “March for Our Lives” rally calling for gun reform on March 24 in Washington, D.C.
Moore, Lecrae, and Lee’s presence in the King-honoring March for Humanity is notable, due to their relatively recent public outspokenness on racism and other issues.
Moore, founder of Living Proof Ministries, shared Bernice King’s tweet with her 864,000 Twitter followers, revealing that she has “never participated in a march before.”
“[B]ut it’s my deep & present conviction that it’s time for this [W]hite Evangelical to do more than talk the talk. It’s time to walk the walk in the name of Jesus for the sake of His gospel,” Moore added. “Join me?”
The author and influential ministry leader was among nearly 80 U.S. Christian leaders who participated in the MLK50: Gospel Reflections From the Mountaintop conference (#MLK50Conference) on April 3-4. Moore, who has been vocal about Evangelicalism’s self-inflicted political and racial woes, participated in the conference’s “Evangelicals and the Future of Racial Unity” panel, according to CBN. Moore has called on Evangelicals to “stand up against injustice, even if it costs them their popularity or forces them out of their comfort zone.”
Award-winning rapper Lecrae’s latest project, All Things Work Together for Good, is essentially an ode on his break from White Evangelicalism, described by some as a form of U.S. Christianity that places preeminence on the concerns, interpretive lens, and comforts of Whiteness as historically rooted in the heresy of white supremacy. The rapper, who has ostracized some of his longtime White fans by unapologetically embracing his Blackness, wrote that Dr. King was a “campaigner for redistribution of wealth (and) pro reparations,” in a recent Instagram post.
“He wasn’t allowed to teach at most of the seminaries and Christian institutions who appropriate his name and legacy,” Lecrae added. “He did not lose his life, and didn’t pass away. He was murdered. Celebrating him means honoring what he stood for, not gentrifying his ideas. This is a true hero, imperfect, but always fighting for perfection.”
The Rev. Lee, meanwhile, emerged in the public spotlight last August when he declared from the stage of the MTV VMA’s: “We have made my ancestor an idol of white supremacy, racism, and hate. As a pastor, it is my moral duty to speak out against racism, America’s original sin.” Lee, a distant nephew of Confederate leader Robert E. Lee, later stepped down as pastor of Bethany United Church of Christ in North Carolina due to negative reaction to his remarks at the music awards show.
The March for Humanity in Atlanta was to occur five days after King’s assassination at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. King was fatally shot April 4, 1968, while standing on the balcony of the motel, which has since become a part of the National Civil Rights Museum. King’s funeral services were held in his hometown of Atlanta five days later, one privately for his family and closest associates and another publicly at Morehouse College, his alma mater. It was to Morehouse College that participants walked in the procession from Ebenezer Baptist Church for three miles. James Earl Ray was arrested two months after the crime and sentenced to 99 years in prison for murdering King.
Monday’s march, overseen by The National Park Service and the King Center, will have participants follow the civil rights leader’s funeral procession by beginning at Ebenezer Baptist Church—where King was ordained at 19—and ending at a statue of the Baptist minister located at the State Capitol’s Liberty Plaza. The march was to kick off at noon, and be followed by “a Love for Humanity program and an ‘Inspirtainment’ event to uplift and encourage the world to push the message of love and humanity forward,” according to organizers.
“It is fitting that the hometown of one of the world’s greatest advocates for nonviolent social change and peace, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., serve as a catalyst to promote understanding, kindness, respect, and civility on a global scale,” stated a public announcement of the event from the King Center. “Together we will win by taking action as we assemble to unite in expressing concern and commitment to change the ‘state of our nation’ and ‘state of the world.’”
The announcement went on to state the aims of King’s “Beloved Community,” which include eradication of poverty, hunger, and homelessness and the replacement of “racism and all forms of discrimination, bigotry and prejudice” with “an all-inclusive spirit of sisterhood and brotherhood.”
— Michael-Chase Strollo (@mcstrollo) April 9, 2018
THESE TWO! #MarchForHumanity Blessed & honored 2 represent the legacy of artists committed 2 Dr. King’s #dream. Marching w/ @lecrae & @Tip , I thought of the stars back in the day who took off their celebrity to let their humanity do the work of the dream. #MLK #MLK50 pic.twitter.com/4A1DafmxZY
— Kim Fields (@KimVFields) April 9, 2018