Al Sharpton to deliver Biko Memorial lecture

Civil rights activist Reverend Al Sharpton arrives for the memorial service in honor of George Floyd on June 4, 2020, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. AFP/CHANDAN KHANNA

Sharpton along with several of Biko’s friends and contemporaries will pay tribute to the Black Consciousness icon during two separate events at Unisa on Saturday evening.

US civil rights leader Reverend Al Sharpton Jr is expected to address the Steve Biko Memorial Lecture at Unisa this evening to commemorate the Black Consciousness hero’s death.

Biko’s comrades will discuss his life and times and current events in a separate event, an hour prior to the Sharpton address.

Sharpton was recently placed back in the spotlight for his moving “Get your knee off our necks” speech at the funeral service of George Floyd, a victim of police brutality that sparked nationwide protests and international solidarity under the #BlackLivesMatter movement.

Sharpton, like the late Martin Luther King Jr, is Baptist minister. He was a Democratic presidential nominee in 2004.

The virtual event will start at 17h30 at the University of South Africa.

Earlier on Saturday Biko’s former close colleagues will mark the 43rd anniversary of Biko’s murder with virtual addresses and anecdotal discussions. Prof Barney Pityana, Prof Saths Cooper, Dr Mamphela Ramphele and Thenjiwe Mtintso will speak to “Biko’s lessons for us” in a Facebook talk organised by the 70s Group.

They will discuss racism, sexism, violence, rampant corruption and a dearth of hopeful and visionary leadership in South Africa, the African Continent and the world.

“Our post-COVID world of compassionate citizenship will be explored in the quest for restoring Our Common Humanity, ” said the 70s Group in a statement. This event will start from 16h30 on the 70s Group Facebook Page.

Biko died in police custody on this day in 1977 after he was transported naked from Port Elizabeth to Pretoria, where he was further tortured and died in police custody.

The Steve Biko Academic Hospital and Steve Biko Street in Pretoria were named after him. The activist from Ginsberg in King William’s Town was also honoured by the democratic government with a statue outside the East London city hall and a Garden of Remembrance in his name in King William’s Town in the Eastern Cape.

ericn@citizen.co.za

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