Stevie Wonder shared an open letter to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. today, as America honors the civil rights leader’s life and brave, tireless work. The legendary artist took to social media to share his powerful words.
“Dear Dr. King: I met you when I was 14 years of age,” began Wonder. “You were a true hero and you became an inspiration. I’ve been blessed to write songs of love, hope, and motivation – many of them inspired by your life.”
He continued, “More than any award that I’ve 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.”
— Stevie Wonder (@StevieWonder) January 18, 2021
The artist’s message was bittersweet, however, as he lamented the inequality and racial tensions that still exist today. “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.”
“This country must reconcile our words and deeds,” declared Wonder. “Until we turn our mouth movement into righteous action, we are doing our nation, God, and your memory an injustice. 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.”
The 22-time Grammy Award winner and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, who was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2014, also called upon the incoming Biden-Harris administration to establish a “Truth Commission” – a “formal, government investigation to establish the truth of inequality in this country.”
“Without truth, we cannot have accountability. Without accountability, we cannot have forgiveness. Without forgiveness, we cannot heal,” he added.
Wonder, who has dedicated much of his life to activism, campaigned to make Dr. King’s birthday a national holiday in the US, and penned his 1980 hit, “Happy Birthday,” to spread awareness of his efforts. The holiday was first officially observed in 1986 and commemorated with a headlining performance by Wonder.
Click here to check out the best musical tributes to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.