Actress, producer and social justice advocate Gina Belafonte is scheduled to join the Pasadena Jewish Temple and Center to reflect on the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. at a special online “Social Justice Shabbat” Friday.
The event coincides with Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which falls on Monday.
Belafonte, who serves as executive director of the social justice advocacy organization Sankofa, will lead a discussion and take questions from attendees, PJTC said in a written statement. Sankofa was founded by her father, singer, songwriter, actor and activist Harry Belafonte.
“I’ll be talking a bit about the legacy of my family and talking about the importance of a multi-racial movement and allies and support,” she said. She added that she also planned to discuss the ongoing efforts of Sankofa.
Attention to social justice, and particularly racial equality, is sorely needed in the current environment, Belafonte said.
“I think we’re experiencing blatant racial tensions in this country and a resurgence of white supremacy,” she said. “Our Jewish brothers and sisters, as it relates to white supremacy and being oppressed in that way, is a common narrative for us. And so I think that it’s an opportunity for us to show how much, in fact, we are alike instead of different and to come together in a shared goal of reconciliation and peace.”
COVID-19 has served to highlight existing issues, Belafonte said.
“As it relates to other issues over this past year, like the coronavirus and disproportionately affecting communities of color, I think that is directly related to our healthcare system, as well as the socioeconomics of people of color, who are predominantly disenfranchised,” she said.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day is not only about one man, but about the movement he led and those who joined in the fight, Belafonte said.
“Martin Luther King day is an opportunity for us to engage the Martin Luther King Jr. in us all, and also know that he did not act alone,” she said. “There were many, many people who supported the platform and while he was the leader that gave voice, there were many people at work.”
Belafonte urged everyone to get involved in advocating for social change, whether by volunteering or donating.
“As it relates to the liberation of people, we need everybody,” she said.
Those interested in participating in Friday’s Social Justice Shabbat, scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Friday, were asked to email sjcPJTC@gmail.com to register and receive Zoom links for the event.
More information on Sankofa is available online at sankofa.org.