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Roland Martin and NewsOne Now were on hand for this year’s Justice League NYC’s Justice Ball 2015, honoring actor/activist Harry Belafonte, Alida Garcia, the Central Park Five, and celebrating the 10th Anniversary of the Gathering for Justice at the historic Apollo Theater in Harlem, NY.
During the celebration, Martin spoke with Gina Belafonte, daughter of the civil rights icon. Belafonte told Martin the Justice Ball 2015 was an “exceptionally exciting night” for her.
“Being one of the founding members of the gathering for justice and seeing how it’s evolved over the last ten years — all the work it’s done, direct services it’s given, the important way in which it is participating in the current movement, activities in supporting families of police brutality and juvenile justice and prison reform — it’s all really exciting,” Belafonte said.
She added, “My dad has had this dream for a long time, so it’s beautiful the way in which it has evolved and I’m excited how the Justice League is coming into the gathering.”
Carmen Perez, Executive Director of The Gathering For Justice, expressed the importance of the movement for social justice to be an “intergenerational, intercultural movement rooted in non-violence and spirituality.” She told Martin, “We look at the elders for their wisdom, they look at us for the energy.”
“It is important to understand what happened in the past, so that we don’t make those same mistakes, but also know that we as young people are accountable to somebody other than ourselves,” said Perez.
She continued, “The dialogue between and the exchange between Mr. Belafonte and myself these past ten years has been really beautiful, been challenging at times. You know there’s moments when I don’t understand at that moment what I’m to do and then I get it afterwards.”
“It’s really about that intergenerational exchange and that’s really helped me become who I am at this moment,” Perez said.
Martin also caught up with Mary Kay Henry, the President of the Service Employees International Union, and asked her how important organizations like the Justice League NYC are. Henry told Martin, they’re “vitally important.”
Henry added, “There is no way for us to win our justice issues without an incredible movement of people in the streets, in their communities, in their churches, in union halls and community centers that are joining together and expressing their collective power to change things for everybody in this county.”
Tamika Mallory discussed one of the major challenges that many organizations like the Justice League NYC face head-on: “We have to find a way to keep the lights on.”
Mallory said, for those who can’t, won’t, or don’t have time to support the struggle for justice with their presence, they can “write a check to support the work.”
Renowned actor Wendell Pierce was also in attendance and he shared a very personal moment with Harry Belafonte, saying, “I’m honored to honor you.”
Pierce also thanked Mr. Belafonte for setting an example though his life and actions “that as a man and as an artist — that can’t died three days before the creation of the world, so don’t ever tell me you can’t do anything.”
Later during the evening’s festivities, Harry Belafonte took the podium and expressed his appreciation, saying, “For those of us who have accepted the challenge of human development, human rights, civil rights — all of it — I’ve made choices that are the better side of the equation. I’m deeply grateful to my comrades, to my leaders, to the young people, to my wonderful family — of course my wife Pamela.”
Watch Roland Martin and NewsOne Now‘s exclusive coverage of the Justice League NYC’s Justice Ball 2015 in the video clip above.
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