On Sunday, Sacha Baron Cohen spoke at the 60th anniversary of Martin Luther King's March on Washington and his "I Have a Dream Speech." And he was speaking not as Borat or Ali G, but as himself.
I promise that this is not a prank on you. I think it might be a prank on me. I thought I was speaking at the Rosenberg bar mitzvah. I'm just glad I chose not to wear the mankini. Now, many of you are probably wondering what the hell is a white Jewish comedian from England doing here. Well, Reverend Sharpton, members of the King family: Thank you for inviting me to join you today. This is an incredible honor. And I must say that I am indebted to the legacy of Dr. King and the work of the King Center.
Cohen spoke eloquently about the multi-cultural fight against racism, explaining that he did his college thesis on the American civil rights movement, including visiting and researching in Atlanta.
There I learned about how Black Americans and Jewish Americans and people of many faiths linked arms together, went to jail together, sacrificed their lives together, and achieved historic victories together for civil rights. The brave alliance teaches a lesson that we can never forget: When we are united, we can hasten the day, as Dr. King proclaimed, when all of God's children will be able to walk the Earth in decency and honor.
And he gave examples of how his character-driven prank comedy exposed the racism that is still festering in this country.
The power of unity is exactly why those who stand in the way of equality and freedom seek to divide us. They appeal to the worst instincts of humanity, which often simmer just below the surface. I've seen it in my own work as Borat, the first fake news journalist. I interviewed some college students, three young white men in their ball caps and polo shirts. It only took a few drinks and soon they were telling me what they really believed. They asked if in my country women are slaves. They talked about here in the U.S., the Jews have the upper hand. When I asked, "Do you have slaves in America?" They replied, "We wish. We should have slaves," one said. "It would be a better country."