Thousands of bright-eyed students and teachers gathered to celebrate their dedication and strong efforts to making a notable change in the world for the second annual WE Day UN at the Barclay Center in Brooklyn, NY last Wednesday, Sept. 26th.
The event, hosted by Skai Jackson, Angie Martinez, Sofia Carson and Jenna Ortega, featured various performances and speeches from Darren Criss, Nas, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, Martin Luther King III, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Princess Beatrice of York.
WE Day UN commemorates the dedicated students and teachers in the Tri-State area for their local and global acts of service. Co-founders Craig and Marc Kielburger kicked the day off by raising the crowd to their feet by chanting “Choose To Do” in an effort to extend their support for the fight against poverty.
“We believe that you are not simply adults in waiting, today it’s up to all of you to act,” added the pair.
Following the inspirational opener, a conversation regarding Nike’s recent, controversial ad featuring Colin Kaepernick sparked between HOT 97 host Ebro Darden and NBA Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Abdul-Jabbar commemorated and praised Nike for this bold, socially-relevant statement.
“It makes a real difference when corporate America can see what’s going on and support the right side of any issue. Colin Kaepernick is protesting against black people being shot down for no good reason. He has no disrespect in heart for the United States of America,” said Abdul-Jabbar.
Additionally, Buffy The Vampire Slayer star Sarah Michelle Gellar reflected on her time during the show and shared how honored she was to play the powerful, female lead of Buffy, especially at a time where their were very seldom strong female roles in mainstream television.
Gellar continued to say that “people often ask me what I’m doing to empower my daughter. And while I encourage my daughter to be strong and speak her mind, I also teach my son to respect and listen to the voices of women around him
. Only when both men and women, boys and girls are empowered equally will real and lasting change occur.”
The dimmed arena twinkled with swaying cell phone lights as Emmy award winning star of The Assassination of Giani Versace, Darren Criss, performed a smooth, acoustic version of ‘I Dreamed A Dream’ from Les Misérables. Followed by Brooklyn native Nas, who electrified the stage with his hits I Can and If I Ruled The World.
Subsequently, R.J. Palacio, the author and star of Wonder, took the stage and reiterated the night’s warm theme of kindness by taking a moment to call attention to the diversity and appreciation of those who filled up the room.
“All of us here today are so different, and I think that’s great! But we all have something very important in common: we want to be accepted and treated just like everybody else! And us kids, no matter how young we are, can teach the world a thing or two about being kind.”