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Citizenship

9 Times Musicians and Leaders Spoke Out for Change at the Global Citizen Festival

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 23: Stevie Wonder and Kwame Morris perform onstage during the 2017 Global Citizen Festival: For Freedom. For Justice. For All. in Central Park to End Extreme Poverty by 2030 at Central Park on September 23, 2017 in New York

On Saturday, 60,000 Global Citizens came out to see New York City’s Central Park turned into a massive stage for the world’s biggest leaders, musicians, and activists working to end extreme poverty by 2030. 

The night saw rousing musical performances from the talented Stevie Wonder, The Killers, Green Day, Big Sean, The Lumineers, and more. 

Global Citizens heard video messages from French President Emmanuel Macron and former first lady Michelle Obama. They saw Kal Penn wearing a shark suit on stage. 

And they heard several powerful speeches — speeches that addressed, among many things, the battle to protect US foreign aid, the campaign to increase access to mental health care around the world, and the fight for racial justice at home and abroad. 

Global Citizen is bringing you nine times Global Citizens sounded out powerful calls for change from the Global Citizen Festival stage this year: 

1/ Stevie Wonder

“Tonight, I’m taking a knee for America; but not just one knee, I'm taking both knees in prayer for our planet, our future, our leaders of the world and our globe.”

2/ Andra Day

“So, [“Strange Fruit”] was a song that was written over 80 years ago, and unfortunately the message in the song is still just as relevant today as it was then. That song was first sung by a woman, Billie Holiday, who, at the threat of her own life, stood up for something, and I want to encourage you all to stand up for something today and to continue to stand up for something.”  

3/ Whoopi Goldberg

“I wish you could see what I see because when I look out at all of this I say this is how you change the world. You don’t have to wait for everybody, you can do it on your own. 

This is how we change the world — one person at a time saying: ‘This is what has to happen, and I’m not gonna take the BS anymore.’”

4/ Jane Goodall

"Chimpanzees help prove there is no sharp line that separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom. And yet knowing that they have emotions like ours, we still show cruelty toward animals and each other. With our clever brains, how is it that we humans are destroying the environment?"

5/ Senator Chuck Schumer 

“I’m from Brooklyn, and I came here from Brooklyn the green way: I rode my bike!” 

6/ Lupita Nyong’o

“None of us can move forward if half of us are held back.” 

7/ Alessia Cara 

“This next song is particularly for all of the women here today and all of the women who go through struggles everyday. I think as women and as girls, we have so many expectations placed on us all the time, and there’s so many things we have to be, and we’re expected to be, and so many ways we’re expected to look. I was getting really tired of it and I know that a lot of us are, even the dudes here I’m sure you get tired of it too. 

So, I wanted to make a song to remind anybody here who doesn’t feel like they’re good enough, or feel like they’re worthy of being loved or loving themselves that you are worth it and that you should celebrate your differences. Especially now, with everything going on, it’s important to love each other, celebrate our differences, and never be afraid to challenge people and show people why you are worth it and why you are worth all of the love in the world.” 

8/ Michelle Obama 

“[T]he fact is that today, 130 million girls of all ages are still not in school. This breaks my heart, both as a woman whose life was transformed by my education and as the mother of two daughters, who wants them and every girl on this planet to fulfill her boundless potential, and become who and what she’s meant to be.” 

9/ Bradman, Slam Poet 

“In any language, in any part of the world, it’s liberty, justice, independence, unity, prosperity, freedom. Let no one go hungry. Let no one be persecuted for their beliefs. Let no one have fear for the safety of their families. These are the things we believe. Everywhere, the citizens of the world believe in freedom. We have the right to freedom and the duty to ensure that everything we do, every day of our lives, brings us closer.”