Several hundred people packed into the historic Riverside Church last night for an Occupy Wall Street vigil honoring Martin Luther King, Jr. The event featured performances by Patti Smith, Steve Earle, Stephan Said, Global Block, and St. Christopher's Gospel Choir, among others. Russell Simmons, civil rights attorney Norman Siegel, Dr. Benjamin Chavis, Jr. and Sumumba Sobukwe addressed the crowd.
Riverside Church was chosen for the event in part because it was where King gave his stirring "Beyond Vietnam" speech in 1967, and portions of the speech were projected on a screen last night. According to photographer Ellen Moynihan, Occupy the Hood representative Malik Rhasaan noted during his speech that "the Occupy movement was built on the back of" King. Indeed, King believed that economic justice was crucial to his vision of equality for all.
While she wasn't present, a statement from Yoko Ono was read, and Moynihan notes that the "performance by the St. Christopher’s Gospel Choir ended the evening, creating a revival-like atmosphere and inspiring an impromptu dance party to emerge from the pews and crowd the front of the church."
An Occupy the Dream march from the Financial District to Madison Square Garden is currently underway.