The Global Citizen Festival brought together music superstars Stevie Wonder and Green Day with political leaders, including Miroslav Lajcak, president of the United Nations General Assembly, in Central Park on Saturday to help end extreme poverty in the world by 2030.
Wonder started with a gesture aimed at President Donald Trump’s remarks about NFL players protesting by taking a knee during the national anthem.
“Tonight, I’m taking a knee for America,” Wonder said, as he slowly knelt on the stage.
“I’m taking both knees. Both knees in prayer for our planet, our future, our leaders of the world.”
He then delivered a sweet, warmhearted set, including “Overjoyed” and “Sir Duke,” even before Pharrell Williams joined him for a funky set that included “Get Lucky,” “Superstition,” and “Happy.” But it was Wonder’s gorgeous version of John Lennon’s “Imagine” that will be the most-remembered moment from the evening.
Green Day’s raucous set immediately brought the feeling to life.
Ra Day brought activists from Uganda, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Jamaica onstage before her stunning soulful anthem “Rise Up.” She also discussed lynching after her version of Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit.”
Global Citizen CEO Hugh Evans said that including this year’s concert, the organization in the past six years had secured $30 billion in commitments from governments and businesses to help end poverty, improving the lives of more than 1 billion people.
“We need to be better and we need to do more,” said Lajcak, who also quoted “Imagine.” “I need to hear your voices all over the world.”