On Monday, legendary singer-songwriter Stevie Wonder released a video commemorating this year’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The musician-activist’s overall message was that the “universe” is profoundly “pissed” off at us for doing the opposite of achieving the fallen civil-rights leader’s vision of a just society.
Early on in the four-minute video, posted to Twitter on MLK Day, Wonder wishes Dr. King a “happy birthday,” before recounting: “Forty years ago today, I was marching in the cold and snowy streets of Washington, D.C., where thousands of people all believed in the right and the power to convince Congress that this national holiday was needed — not just to honor this man of peace, but to honor the principle of peace and unity.” Wonder adds: “Forty years ago, we marched, and then we peacefully entered the Capitol to explore ways to reach across the aisle.”
Wonder, who has repeatedly denounced candidate and then president Donald Trump over the years, appeared to be emphasizing the word “peacefully,” in order to explicitly differentiate that type of nonviolent activism from the Trump-inspired rioting at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
However, for much of the remainder of his video message, Wonder’s message turns less sanguine.
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“Forty years, what have we done for the planet? How have we really helped each other? Where has poverty been eliminated, why are guns still protected, and why has hate been elevated? Truthfully, we’ve done very little in 40 years,” Wonder says. “Now it is time for us to grow the [fuck] up, and get out of our virtual delusions that sell murder, mayhem, terrorism, and hate…Dr. King, I wish I could say you were here. But it feels like we did not deserve you then, and we’re not much better now.”
He adds: “And people, I believe deep in my soul the universe is watching us — and she is pissed. But will we fix it? I hope so.”
Wonder’s decades-long record of social and political activism has been recognized both in the United States and abroad. The United Nations has recognized his work over the years, and the organization writes that Wonder’s “activism has been pivotal in U.S. and world events. In 1983, he spearheaded a campaign to make Martin Luther King Day a national holiday in the United States. He also advocated for the end of apartheid in South Africa.”