Entertainment

Stevie Wonder leads celebrities marking Martin Luther King Jr Day

Wonder was instrumental in having the civil rights leader's birthday being recognised as a US national holiday.

Stevie Wonder led the celebrities marking Martin Luther King Jr Day as he decried the US’s “lack of progress” on racial equality.

Revered civil rights leader King was assassinated in 1968 and his birthday was made an American national holiday in 1983.

Wonder, one of the best-selling musicians ever, was influential in having the third Monday in January recognised each year. To mark the 2021 commemoration, he posted a video to social media urging Joe Biden to form a national commission on equality.

Addressing King, Wonder said: “For 36 years, we’ve had a national holiday honouring your birthday and principles, and you would not believe the lack of progress. It makes me physically sick.”

Wonder, 70, added: “It is time for all to take the only stand. We can not be afraid to confront a lie and a liar. Those in leadership who won’t or don’t acknowledge the truth should be held accountable.

“Dr King, these times require courage, as they did when you lived and paid the ultimate price.”

The Isn’t She Lovely singer also appeared to reference Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial, calling on the Senate to “speak truth to what they know they can physically see and begin the steps towards accountability, forgiveness and then healing”.

Also celebrating Martin Luther King Jr Day was Friends star Jennifer Aniston.

The actress posted a quote from King to Instagram and said: “Celebrating Dr Martin Luther King Jr. today… thinking about all the work he started, and all that is left to do.”

Chart-topping singer Alicia Keys described the holiday as a “powerful reminder to think and take action”.

She added: “There is so much to change especially in the continued fight for justice and against white supremacy and racism. But we see how far we can go when we do it together!”

Oscar-winning actress Laura Dern said: “Thank you, Dr King, for your genius, your wisdom, your courage, your ability to be even-tempered and disciplined in the face of hatred when necessary, and to rise up for us all and teach us to always use our voices.”

Pop star Demi Lovato urged her Instagram followers to mark the day by volunteering.

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