Stevie Wonder has become the latest celebrity to lend his voice to the Black Lives Matter campaign following days of unrest across America. The Superstition crooner encouraged a 65,000-strong crowd at the British Summer Time Festival to choose 'love over hate' in the wake of the Dallas shootings and outbreaks of violence.
"I encourage you to choose love over hate. It's just that simple. Choose love over hate, right over wrong, kind over meanness. Hope over no hope at all," he told revellers. "The songs and the words that we talk about, those conditions still exist in the world and that hurts my heart.
"If I'm blind and I can see it, you can see it too."
Tensions between citizens and police have escalated following the deaths of Baton Rouge resident Alton Sterling and Philando Castile in Minnesota at the hand of officers. A retaliatory attack on police by black sniper Micah Johnson in Dallas, which is the deadliest single attack on US law enforcement officers since 9/11 in 2001, resulted in the deaths of five officers.
Wonder insisted that the surge in violence was further proof that America needed to take action. He urged fans to tell implore world leaders to "Cut the bull ... and fix it", adding: "We were all made in God's image. When you hate someone, you're hating that image."
The soul legend was performing to mark the 40th anniversary of his double album, Songs In The Key Of Life, which features hits line Love's In Need Of Love Today and Village Ghetto Land. But the celebrations were marred by ongoing protests over the use of police brutality in the US, often involving young black men. Wonder said: "All life does matter, but the reason that I say black lives matter is because we are the original people of this world. So in essence, everyone here has some black in you. You've all got some soul in you so stop denying your culture."
Wonder's comments came hours after hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets of Oxford circus and marched down the busy shopping street towards Hyde Park in a show of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. "Stopping traffic everywhere. The streets are ours today," wrote Instagram user Ezzy Anya.