Stevie Wonder penned an open letter to Martin Luther King Jr. on the holiday that celebrates the civil rights leader’s life and legacy. In a video featuring him reading the letter, he recounts meeting Dr. King, calling him a “true hero and you became an inspiration,” and elaborates on the need for a “Truth Commission” for racial justice.
“More than any award that I have ever received, I want you to know that I am thankful how you influenced my place of love, which allowed me to try to push the needle of love and equality forward.
“It is painful to know that needle has not moved one iota,” Wonder writes. “For 36 years, we’ve had a national holiday honoring your birthday and principles; yet you would not believe the lack of progress. It makes me physically sick.”
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame alum cites being sick of “lies and deceit,” and rebukes people who use “God for convenience” alongside politicians “trying to find an easy solution to a 400 year problem” while “truth is struggling to be heard and defended.”
— Stevie Wonder (@StevieWonder) January 18, 2021
“Until we turn our mouth movement into righteous action, we are doing our nation, God and your memory an injustice,” he continues. “Until what we say is what we do, there is no truth. It is just repeating and rewriting history, just as we have for the last 400 years.”
In the letter, he calls for a “Truth Commission.” “I am calling on President Biden and Vice President Harris to launch a formal, government investigation to establish the truth of inequality in this country. This truth will validate the history and this commission will recommend reconciliations.
“Without truth we cannot have accountability. Without accountability we cannot have forgiveness. Without forgiveness, we cannot heal.”
“On this day, a day in your honor, I pledge to have the courage to say what I see and acknowledge what I hear,” he concludes. “In your spirit, I call on all those in the Senate to speak truth to what they know they can physically see and begin the steps of accountability, forgiveness and then healing.”
Wonder is one of several artists, including Alicia Keys and Khalid, who have called for the Biden-Harris administration to establish a commission for racial justice. In June 2020, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) proposed legislation for forming a Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation Commission following the killing of George Floyd and in the wake of Covid-19.