Rainbow PUSH honors parents of Ahmaud Arbery, Jelani Day during annual Martin Luther King Jr. program

During Monday’s program honoring King, Marcus Arbery told viewers, “You’ve got to keep on fighting. Don’t give up. Because somebody’s going to hear you.”

SHARE Rainbow PUSH honors parents of Ahmaud Arbery, Jelani Day during annual Martin Luther King Jr. program
Carmen Bolden Day, mother of Jelani Day, speaks during a news conference Dec. 3 at the Rainbow PUSH Coalition headquarters.

Carmen Bolden Day, mother of Jelani Day, speaks during a news conference Dec. 3 at the Rainbow PUSH Coalition headquarters.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times file

The Rainbow PUSH Coalition honored the parents of Ahmaud Arbery and Jelani Day, among others, during its annual Martin Luther King Jr. celebration Monday.

The awards were announced during the hourlong virtual program that reflected on King’s life and legacy, including his time in Chicago, as well as the work of Rainbow PUSH founder Jesse Jackson.

Profile in Courage Award recipients Marcus Arbery and Carmen Bolden Day spoke during the program and praised Jackson.

“He’s a mighty brave man because it takes a lot of heart and nerve to stand up to the plate,” Marcus Arbery said.

Three white men were convicted of murder for chasing and killing Ahmaud Arbery, 25, who was Black, after they spotted him running in their Georgia neighborhood in February 2020. The men were sentenced to life in prison earlier this month, and a judge denied any chance of parole to the father and son who initiated the pursuit.

Attorney Ben Crump, left, and Marcus Arbery Sr., the father of Ahmaud Arbery, second from left, arrive at the Glynn County Courthouse Oct. 18 as jury selection begins for the trial of the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery.

Attorney Ben Crump, left, and Marcus Arbery Sr., the father of Ahmaud Arbery, second from left, arrive at the Glynn County Courthouse Oct. 18 as jury selection begins for the trial of the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery.

Sean Rayford/Getty

“Ahmaud Arbery was then hunted down and shot, and he was killed because individuals here in this courtroom took the law into their own hands,” the judge said when he handed down the sentence.

During Monday’s program honoring King, Marcus Arbery told viewers, “You’ve got to keep on fighting. Don’t give up. Because somebody’s going to hear you. … God’s going to send the right people to you to hear your cries.”

Jelani Day, a graduate student at Illinois State University, disappeared in August, and his body was found days later in the Illinois River in downstate Peru. A coroner determined he died from drowning, and authorities have said his death remains under investigation.

Carmen Bolden Day has demanded the FBI take charge of the investigation, saying her son’s death should be probed as urgently as cases involving white victims, such as Gabby Petito. The FBI in December offered a $10,000 reward for information about Day’s death.

“There are police departments that are working — that have said they are working, that have claimed to be working — on this case,” Day’s mother said during Monday’s program. “However, no one has taken leadership. So, it has been my quest to make sure that accountability is now what we are seeking.”

Also honored Monday were U.S. Rep. Alma Adams, D-N.C., who received the Push for Excellence in Education Award; Sikhulile Moyo, who received the International Humanitarian Award after discovering the COVID-19 Omicron variant; and Jack Lynch of the Gift of Hope Organ & Tissue Donor Network, who also received a Profile in Courage Award.

Contributing: AP

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