A&E's new special, "Conversations on Race in America," airs tonight at 10 p.m. and features commentary from residents of Charleston, Ferguson, Baltimore, and Chicago. The special follows the televised benefit concert
, "Shining a Light: A Concert for Progress on Race in America," at 8 p.m., which includes performances by artists like Alicia Keys, Bruce Springsteen, John Legend, and Pharrell Williams, who performed at Charleston's Mother Emanuel AME church earlier this month.
During Williams' concert taping in Charleston, local poet Marcus Amaker was invited to read his poem, "Black Cloth," which he wrote in honor of the Emanuel Nine. You can read Amaker's poem here.
Amaker during the taping of "Conversations on Race in America"
In a statement about the poem Amaker says, "Everyone in the community was struggling to find answers. For me, answers come in the form of words that flow from my conscience."
The producers of the show contacted Amaker after local Charleston artisans told them about his work. Amaker says, "I'm blessed to be a part of a larger movement toward honest conversations. I encourage people to start expressing themselves and to not be afraid to be uncomfortable."
If you want to get involved in the conversation head to Amaker's website
and submit your own mantra (the name of Amaker's most recent book of poetry), which he may use in his next book.
Check out the concert and the conversation tonight on A&E, Lifetime, the History Channel, and iHeart Media.