Spike Lee and Rev. Al Sharpton led an anti-gun violence march from New York’s Ziegfeld Theater on 54th street in Manhattan to Times Square on Tuesday night, following the premiere of Lee’s new film, Chi-Raq.
“Sixty years ago today, Rosa Parks, on Dec. 1, 1955, refused to give up her seat on the bus,” Sharpton told the crowd before Chi-Raq made its New York debut. “We refuse, 60 years later, to give up our community to gun violence. We going to march tonight to show that we are not giving up our seats in our communities. We are not giving up the seats of our mothers and our children. We, in the spirit of Rosa Parks, are going to march tonight.”
The march was coordinated with help from LIFE and founder Erica Ford, who encourages people to wear orange in support of anti-gun initiatives. (At the premiere, orange ski-caps were handed out to attendees beforehand.)
“In the name of Erica Ford, tonight, orange is the new black,” Sharpton said. “Orange is the new white. Orange is the new Latino. When people ask why we’re wearing orange, it’s because we’re standing up in Rosa Parks’ name to say we won’t give up our seat. Get rid of the guns and save the kids in our community.”
VIDEO: See an exclusive clip from Chi-Raq below
Set on the South Side of Chicago, Chi-Raq modernizes Aristophanes’ Lysistrata to show what happens when a group of women withhold sex from their male partners until the rampant gun violence in the city (and around the world) is stopped. Lee’s film stars Teyonah Parris as Lysistrata, and features John Cusack, Nick Cannon, Wesley Snipes, Angela Bassett, and Samuel L. Jackson in supporting roles. Chi-Raq has become a lightning rod for controversy because of its title and satirical tone.
“Let me say this: A lot of people always cause controversy when Spike comes out with something, and then you know it’s right,” Sharpton said before the screening. “Martin Luther King said you don’t judge the character of a man by where he stands in the hours of convenience but where he stands in the hour of controversy.” Sharpton later added that no one in Hollywood has tackled gun violence in the way that Lee has with his new film.
“It’ll bring a discussion that will save lives,” Sharpton said.
Chi-Raq is out on Dec. 4. Check out photos from the march below.