Last week, AT&T celebrated the power of human connectivity and the technologies utilized by Black cultural innovators by recognizing the achievements of a special group of honorees along with celebrating the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the 50th anniversary of his death for their second annual Humanity of Connection event.
Held at Jazz at Lincoln Center, the program hosted by Hill Harper included an awards ceremony and the premiere of a short film entitled “The Humanity of Connection” that emphasized the past 50 years of trials and triumphs, the courageous work of Dr. King and the productivity that results when connection and technology merge.
The night’s honorees included legendary actress and activist Cicely Tyson; political commentator, activist, CEO of IMPACT Strategies and millennial favorite Angela Rye; President of Essence Communications Michelle Ebanks; and best-selling author and CEO of the Robin Hood Foundation Wes Moore.
Moore called the night a humbling experience to be honored in the name of Dr. King and credits King for being the foundation that much of his work is built on.
“I want people to understand the power and greatness in all of us has not come because someone tapped us to do it, but that our power is our birthright,” said Moore. “Our power is the fact that we do come from the blood of King—that’s our legacy, that’s our gift, so we don’t have to wait for someone to tap us and give us permission to embrace it. We have to know that within our birthright that’s something that is ours and is now just our responsibility to go grab it.”
Rye was grateful to celebrate the work of King, her fellow honorees and the importance of understanding that we are all connected. She stated, “We all have blood running through our veins, we’re human beings, and if people can start appreciating each other on that level it makes it that much easier to drop your defenses and listen.”
Of the film Rye said she hopes viewers take away the importance of working together all in the name of love.
“I hope we start modeling our lives after Dr. King, that we start understanding the importance of loving, loving the oppressed so that we can move ourselves out of a systemic oppressed situation so that our activism will be focused on and rooted in love and not combat hate with hate. It just doesn’t work and its exhausting—I’m tired of being mad,” said Rye.
Other guests of the night included actress Phylicia Rashad, the Rev. Al Sharpton and former Essence editor-in-chief Susan L. Taylor.