RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – Tonight, Richmond will wrap up a week of events remembering the Richmond 34. The group of Virginia Union University students staged a sit-in at the Thalhimer's lunch counter 50 years ago. The week culminates with Grammy-winning singer John Legend.
Six years as a solo singer and six Grammys under his belt, John Legend has established himself as one the best that contemporary music has to offer, but in our conversation, the 31-year old made it very clear that he has no problem using his microphone to push people to act.
"When you look at what these young people did back in 1960, you have to be inspired," said Legend.
His visit to Richmond is in part to honor the 34 Virginia Union students from 1960, but also to encourage others to follow their example.
"When we see things that aren't fair, that aren't just today, what are we going to do to follow their example. Are we going to speak up or are we just gonna let it go?" he said.
Legend, whose real name is John Stephens, has been no stranger to political activism. He penned a song in tribute to Barack Obama's historic run for the White House, and his win. At the same time though, the singer says he's not just a singer, and he's developed a following for causes he holds dear; reforming education, and the charity he formed to help fight poverty in the African nation of Tanzania.
"I always encourage young people, no matter who they are and where they live, to pay attention to what's going on. And if you have power and the ability to help somebody, do it," Legend said. "I feel like it gives me an opportunity to do something good for other people and I can't think of a better way to use my celebrity."
A point Legend drives home each time he has audience, and it's appropriate that tonight he'll honor the fight of civil rights era of the '60's and '70's. This summer his fourth album will covers from the same era.They're all songs with like a social conscience and songs about uplift and all the things that were going on during that time.
An Evening of Reflection with John Legend starts at seven tonight at Centerstage's Carpenter Theatre. Tickets are still available. The singer will, of course, spend time at the piano but he'll also engage the audience in a dialog. Money raised by this event will benefit the Centerstage Foundation.
To see the full interview with John Legend click the video to the right of the article.