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African National Congress President Nelson Mandela salutes the crowd in Galeshewe Stadium near Kimberley, South Africa, before a forum on Feb. 25, 1994.
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We're Celebrating 100 Years of Activism With the Descendants of Social Justice Icons

The history of 20th-century activism has powerful echoes this year. Nelson Mandela was born 100 years ago; Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy were assassinated 50 years ago; Shirley Chisholm became the first black woman to be elected to Congress 50 years ago; and Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated 70 years ago.

These figures are only coincidentally linked by time, but they’re all bound together by an unwavering conviction in justice and equality. They all worked in tandem with legions of other activists, and followed in the footsteps of the people campaigning before them. Similarly, today’s social justice activists are building on the victories of the past, and pursuing a world in which poverty, racism, and other injustices are no more.

Global Citizen is honoring this grand tradition at Riverside Church in New York City on Saturday, Sept. 23, at 6 p.m. in partnership with the Robert Kennedy Foundation in an event that’s open to the public.

Relatives of the legendary activists mentioned above will be honored at the event.

You can RSVP for free tickets here.

Take Action: Sign the Year of Mandela Declaration and Commit to Be the Generation to End Extreme Poverty

The event, dubbed “The Spirit of a Movement,” will feature three keynote speakers who are icons in their respective fields.

The Harlem fashion designer Dapper Dan will speak about his journey toward the pinnacle of the fashion world, having battled lawsuits from the world’s top luxury brands in the 1980s for his daring use of their logos for what he called “Ghetto Couture.” Dapper Dan helped to break down racial and class barriers in the fashion world, and his influence was recently vindicated when Gucci tapped him for a collaboration.

The 11-year old youth activist Naomi Wadler will discuss her advocacy work to end gun violence, and what it means to struggle for political rights at such a young age. Wadler gained national fame after organizing a school walkout after the gun massacre in Parkland, Florida.

“I represent the African American women who are victims of gun violence, who are simply statistics instead of vibrant, beautiful girls full of potential,” the 11-year-old said at the March For Our Lives rally in Washington, DC, earlier this year. “For far too long, these names, these black girls and women, have been just numbers ... I’m here to say ‘Never again’ for those girls, too.”

Read More: Rally With Global Citizen in New York for a Chance to Win Festival Tickets

Also at the event will be the Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad, who will advocate for ending stigmas surrounding mental health and other forms of prejudice. Muhammad was the first Muslim on the US Olympic team to perform with a hijab, and her bold religious expression has since earned her national acclaim.

In between these talks, the speakers will be joined by the producer Keyon Harrold, the vocalist Victoria Boyd, the Howard Gospel Choir, the Kotchegna Dance Company, the Alvin Ailey dance company, and other performances.

This is Global Citizen’s second year hosting an event at Riverside, and it kicks off Global Citizen Week, a week of action, advocacy, and art culminating into the 2018 Global Citizen Festival in Central Park.

Sign up for Global Citizen Week events here.


The 2018 Global Citizen Festival in New York will be presented for the very first time by Citi. MSNBC and Comcast NBCUniversal will air a live simulcast of the Festival on MSNBC and MSNBC.com. The Festival will also be livestreamed on YouTube and Twitter, presented by Johnson & Johnson.

Proud partners of the 2018 Global Citizen Festival include Global Citizen’s global health partner and major partner Johnson & Johnson, and major partners P&G, CHIME FOR CHANGE Founded by Gucci, Verizon, House of Mandela, iHeartMedia, and NYC Parks. Associate partners include Microsoft, Great Big Story, and One Championship.

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