Iconic human and civil rights leaders Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi were among several past and current leaders honored at an ceremony during this week’s Global Citizen Festival in New York City.
“The Spirit of a Movement” gathering on Monday sponsored by the international advocacy group and the nonprofit Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights organization, also recognized the legacies of Kennedy and Shirley Chisholm, the late U.S. Congresswoman who became the first Black woman to run for president in 1972.
Also honored was 11-year-old youth advocate Naomi Wadler, who received the first Global Citizen Legend Award. She was recognized for her riveting speech denouncing gun violence against African-American girls during the March for our Lives rally held in Washington, D.C. earlier this year.
While accepting her Global Citizen award, Wilder said there’s no age limit on being aware.
“There shouldn’t be a a rule on whether young girls should be able to speak out on what they believe in!,” she said.
Wilder also told the hundreds of mostly adults in attendance that, “I don’t particularly care if I am 11-years-old. I won’t ask for permission to take a stand and make a difference, and neither should you!”
She also encouraged attendees to participate in this year’s midterm elections. “You need to proudly become voters for yourselves,” she said.
Speaking on behalf of King, his son, Martin Luther King III, echoed one of his father’s famous sayings that the ultimate measure of a human being is not where he stands in time of comfort and convenience, but where one stands in times of challenge and controversy.
“Sometimes we must take positions that are not safe, nor popular, but we must take those positions because our consciousness tells us they are right,” King III said.
Muhammad, who helped the US team win a bronze medal, received praise far and wide that year for her stance as Time magazine named her to its “The Most 100 Influential People” list. She even had a Barbie doll resembling her.
“I’m here to show people today that you don’t have to allow yourself to be confined by society’s limited expectation of you,” Muhammad said Monday while receiving her Global Citizen award. “I will never waver from being an agent of change.”
The Global Citizen Festival concludes on Saturday with a star-studded concert featuring The Weeknd, Cardi B, Janelle Monae and Janet Jackson.
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