Stars deliver inspirational messages in Call to Unite event

Entertainment

In a photo provided by The Call to Unite, Oprah Winfrey speaks during the 24-hour live event, which was transmitted Friday, May 1, 2020. (The Call to Unite via AP)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Director Lee Daniels talked about past drug use and urged people not to give into the temptation to abuse drugs during the coronavirus pandemic, saying “You are not alone.” Actress Eva Longoria said the pandemic is giving the world a chance to reset itself, and praised health workers for their huge sacrifices. LeAnn Rimes sang “There Will Be a Better Day.”

The messages were both universal and personal on Saturday as the Call to Unite livestream, a 24-hour event, stretched into its second day.

President Bill Clinton and Oprah Winfrey were among those who participated Friday night, and Quincy Jones, Jennifer Garner, Common, Maria Shriver, Questlove, Yo-Yo Ma, were also participating in the event, being livestreamed at unite.us and on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Twitch, LinkedIn and SiriusXM Stars.

Daniels, in an emotional message, talked about his past drug use during the AIDS epidemic in the ‘80s. He talked about the pain of losing friends to the disease, which he said decimated the African-American gay community. And he urged people not to resort to drug use during the current pandemic. “You’re not alone,” he said. “Stay in the moment. Don’t use. Be safe.”

Longoria cited the teachings of Gandhi as she urged people to “be the change you want to see in the world.”

“We’re in a moment where we have a chance to reset and start anew,” she said. She praised nurses and doctors especially for risking their lives to save others, and therapists donating services to tend to people’s mental health.

On Friday evening, Winfrey said she keeps updated with coronavirus news, but has often focused her attention more on positive “acts of valor.”

The event, organized by Tim Shriver, was launched to help inspire people to endure and overcome the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.

President George W. Bush said: “Even at an appropriate social distance, we can find ways to be present in the lives of others to ease their anxiety and share their burdens.” Clinton delivered the message that “we can get through this together.”

Sean Combs said the pandemic was giving humanity a chance to unite. “We don’t have to wait until the pandemic is over,” he said. “This can come true right now.” He urged people to “give someone an extra mask, check on an elderly neighbor.”

The event kicked off with a performance by the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Instead of performing collectively, each member clapped and danced individually in various places from inside their apartment, rooftop or park to the tune of Ailey’s “Rocka My Soul in the Bosom of Abraham.”

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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