“If I had to describe the Harmony for Humanity Concert in one word, I would have to say ‘powerful,’” said Kenneth Chamberlain Jr.
Chamberlain attended the musical tribute that honored families that have suffered loss due to the indiscriminate deadly abuse of power by the police. Chamberlain’s father was killed in Westchester in a controversial police shooting in 2011.“The music was amazing, and it was beautiful to be around so many men and women of God as we stood in solidarity with each other. Truly amazing,” he added.
The concert honoring Ramarley Graham at Greater Faith Temple in the Bronx was packed with people who were filled with love and compassion. The evening sent a message to the families of Amadou Diallo, Graham, Anthony Baez, Kenneth Chamberlain Sr. and Kyam Livingston that the loss of their loves one was not in vain, that Sean Bell, Nicholas Hayward Jr., Eleanor Bumpurs, Iman Morales, Shantel Davis, Tamon Robinson and Anthony Rosario will never be forgotten.
“I have been associated with the Graham family for about a year. I have supported them by marching at rallies and have given them spiritual support,” host and concert organizer the Rev. Aaron Kelly told the AmNews. “What I found was that there was not a lot of camaraderie among people who had similar tragedies. I had the feeling that these families felt that their situations were unique. But they were feeling something universal, and that was pain.”
Kelly said that the motivation for the concert was to see these families come together and to use music as a kind of metaphor. “I found that there is a difference between unifying and harmonizing. To do something in unison means collectively one sound … one band,” he continued. “When we do something in harmony, all of the parts come together as a community, as a people in harmony. If we all have different parts, it is imperative that we are singing the same songs, the same words and share each other’s sentiments. That was my drive, to see the families come together.”
The spectacular Greater Faith Temple Mass Choir shared their musical ministry. International inspirational music artist and music educator Leon Lacey and his 50-piece orchestra known as “Orchestrated” left the audience captivated. There were also community activists, faith-based leaders and elected officials at the concert, including the Rev. Herbert Daughtry and Assemblyman Carl Heastie.
“The climate was filled with the spiritual and graceful words of Pastor Michelle Grace Haynes. Everyone walked away energized with a sense of empathy for the Graham family and the Diallo families,” Bronx Councilman Andy King told the AmNews. “I am here not just as an elected official, but as a brother in Christ. We have to do whatever we can. We should unite against the injustices that happen to people of color in this country.”
After the concert, Graham’s mother, Constance Malcolm, said she was happy that the families came together. She received words of encouragement from Iris Baez, mother of Anthony Baez, the 29-year old security guard who died after a scuffle with the NYPD. Officer Francis Livoti was convicted in federal court for violating Anthony Baez’s civil rights and was sentenced to seven and a half years in federal prison. “She told me to keep the faith and to keep fighting,” Malcolm told the AmNews.
The U.S. Department of Justice will review the Graham case to determine if any civil rights laws were violated. A grand jury failed to re-indict Officer Richard Haste, who shot and killed the teen because he thought he was reaching for a weapon that never existed.