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Black Lives Matter leader at MLK tribute: ‘Klansmen dressed in suits are being sworn into office’ - Brooklyn Paper

Black Lives Matter leader at MLK tribute: ‘Klansmen dressed in suits are being sworn into office’

The struggle continues: Black Lives Matter co-founder Opal Tometi gives the keynote address at the Annual Brooklyn Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr at the Brooklyn Academy of Music on Jan. 16.
Photo by Jordan Rathkopf

The co-founder of activist group Black Lives Matter railed against President-elect Trump during her keynote address at this year’s Brooklyn Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on Monday, telling the hundreds-strong crowd that the fight for equality is just beginning.

“When men no better than Klansmen dressed in suits are being sworn into office, we cannot be silent,” activist Opal Tometi told the crowd at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

Just days away from Trump’s inauguration, Tometi rallied the audience to oppose his proposed Muslim registries and mass deportations of undocumented immigrants, as well as to join the Black Lives Matter movement’s fight to bring police who kill innocent black men to justice, according to attendees.

Her message really resonated with the crowd, said one audience member.

“Her speech was phenomenal, and it was right on point,” said lifelong Fort Greene resident Pamela Mondezie who has been attending the 31-year-old show for some 15 years. “She was touching on a lot of his work and his legacy — that we can’t stop, especially now. We must continue to fight.”

Alongside Tometi, plenty of locals pols also offered their words — including the borough’s Acting District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, who gave a stirring tribute to the late Ken Thompson, Brooklyn’s first black district attorney, who died of cancer last year.

“It was moving,” said Mondezie. “Sad but good in the same sense.”

But there was also plenty of fun, Mondezie reports — performances from Brooklyn’s own Institutional Radio Choir and sacred steel band the Campbell Brothers had everyone up and dancing, she said.

“The music moved you, gave you chills in your body,” she said. “They had the crowd on their feet.”

Reach deputy editor Ruth Brown at rbrown@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–8309. Follow her at twitter.com/rbbrown.

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