Artists, civil rights leaders and members of Occupy Wall Street will converge Sunday evening in upper Manhattan for a candlelight vigil meant to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The event, culminating in performances by Patti Smith, Steve Earle and others, is one of several being held across the city along with another twenty or so around the world.
Musician Stephan Said, an organizer, said that although Occupy Wall Street and its allies had many economic and political grievances, the common thread was the quest for a "more equal world," something it shared with Dr. King.
"We've got a chance to do that, right now, unlike any generation," said Said, pointing to social media and a "growing global consensus" demanding political reforms and economic justice.
In addition to musical performances, the event will feature remarks by civil rights leader Dr. Benjamin Chavis, hip hop mogul Russell Simmons and civil rights attorney Norman Siegel. Malik Rhasaan, another organizer and the founder of Occupy the Hood, is also expected to speak.
Kanene Holder, an Occupy protester and activist from Harlem, said the movement was encouraging black clergy and other segments of the black community
"The system has really marginalized the black and brown community the largest extent that it could," she said, noting low rates of college enrollment and high rates of incarceration.
But she argued that communities of color had to become more active participants.
"We can no longer sit on the sidelines," she said. "We can no longer be professional backseat drivers. Licensed backseat drivers. We have to be on the forefront of any movement for systemic change."
Participants are scheduled to assemble Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine at 6:30 p.m. and begin a candlelight march to Riverside Church at 7 p.m.