Written by | Ray Cornelius 

“Selma” actor and activist, David Oyelowo was one of many special guests invited to speak during Monday’s 47th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Service in Atlanta, GA. The British-born actor made a rare appearance, just hours after marching with his co-stars Oprah Winfrey and Common and director, Ava DuVernay across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, AL on Sunday evening.

David Oyelowo

Actor and activist, David Oyelowo talking about playing MLK in the movie Selma

 A tearful and emotional Oyelowo shared his very personal experience playing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and confessed that God had already revealed to him in prayer seven years ago that he would play the civil rights leader in a movie. He also described what it was like “stepping into the shoes of King” and why this was more than an acting gig but a transformative experience. His Nigerian father was also present and flew all the way from the UK to be a part of today’s ceremony.

John Lewis

 John Lewis greeting the honorable Mathilde Mukantabana

Joining Oyelowo was the real  Selma marcher and organizer, the Honorable Congressman John Lewis, whose speech was a letter to Dr. King, detailing the progress of African-Americans. Lewis referred to his former mentor as his “hero” and stated that  Dr. King had “redeemed more than a people but a nation.”

BKing 2

 Elder Bernice King giving remarks at the beginning of the program

King’s youngest daughter, Elder Dr. Bernice King, gave a rousing speech during the opening remarks, touching on the recent deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Gardner. However, it was Rev. Dr. Gwendolyn Elizabeth Boyd’s keynote address that brought the packed Horizon Sanctuary to its feet with a call-to-action message of hope and encouragement. The former Delta Sigma Theta Sorority President, urged members of the audience not to remain silent about the social ills that plaque our communities and described the U.S. as a nation “surrounded by yellow crime scene tape.” The very bold statement left many in the audience, speechless!

Cant breath

 Students reciting the address from King’s speech at ‘The Conclusion of the Selma March’

The televised ceremony also included remarks from Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed as well as religious leaders of all faiths including the Muslim and Jewish communities.  Students from various Atlanta metro schools recited Dr. King’s historic speech from “The Conclusion of the Selma March” and  Grammy winning-singer, Sandi Patty delivered a hair-raising performance of the gospel classic “How Great Thou Art.” The program closed with the Bell Ringing Ceremony as part of King’s Legacy of Courage and the singing of the movement anthem, “We Shall Overcome.”

Take a look at more photos below:

Photo One

 Aerial view of the stage

Flag Salute

New Hope Pathfinders Club Flag Bearers presented the Flags of the Nations


Elder Dr. Bernice King

King Farris

 Dr. Christine King Farris presided over the entire ceremony

John Lewis  2

 Greetings from the Honorable John Lewis, 5th Congressional District, Georgia

Kasim Reed

Mayor of Atlanta Kasim Reed

Kids 21

 Students reciting Dr. King’s address at the ‘Conclusion of the Selma March’

Crowd Shot

Ebenezer Baptist Church – Horizon Sanctuary was filled to capacity


 Amazing Grace Dance Company performing to Micah Stampley’s “Another Place”

Sandy Patti

Grammy winning-vocalist Sandi Patty performing ‘How Great Thou Art”

Guest Speaker 22

Rev. Dr. Gwendolyn Elizabeth Boyd’s speech was timely and on point


Student speakers posing for a picture

Special guest 2

 Elder Dr. Bernice King with ‘Selma’ actor David Oyelowo and Rev. Dr. Gwendolyn Elizabeth Boyd

David with fans

 David Oyelowo taking pictures with fans after the ceremony

Father and Son

Iconic statue in front of Ebenezer Baptist Church – Horizon Sanctuary


Mahatma Gandhi was honored today as well

King and King

 Final resting places of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mrs. Coretta Scott King

RC with David Oyelowo.jpg feature

A #Selfie with ‘Selma’ actor David Oyelowo

Photo Credits: RayCornelius.com