Day 1 line up:
Grammy-Winning Hip Hop Stars T.I. and Macklemore, Singers/Songwriters Aloe Blacc, Goapele and Alice Smith, Grammy-Winning Jazz Vocalist Dianne Reeves, Grammy Award Nominated A Cappella Ensemble Sweet Honey In The Rock, and Artist/Actor/Activist Jussie Smollett have signed on to perform at the event, joining the celebrated line-up that features a mix of artists and thought-leaders including John Legend, Chris Rock, Jesse Williams, Common, Estelle, Dave Matthews, Carlos Santana, Public Enemy, Danny Glover and Dr. Cornel West. The festival will be held at Bouckaert Farm, 20 minutes southwest of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Tickets can be purchased at TICKETFLY.com
Sankofa is proud and excited to congratulate Jesse Williams on receiving the Humanitarian Award at this year's BET Awards. Through his dedicated activism work with us, Black Lives Matter and other grassroots organizations fighting on the front lines for racial justice and human rights, Jesse is a shining example of how today's entertainers and influencers can and should leverage their platforms to advance progressive change. Sankofa is proud to call him a friend, an ally, and a key member of our Advisory Board. This honor is both well-earned and highly-deserved, and we wish him the very best.
The acquittal of yet another officer responsible fo Freddie Gray's death is an egregious miscarriage of justice, and demonstrates that merica's legal systems are not designed to protect or serve Black and Brown people. It is unconscionable that neither officer Goodson nor Officer Nero are being held accountable for murdering an innocent, unarmed man.
This July, – the Center for Popular Democracy’s (CPD) network of powerful state-based organizations – are taking major steps to advance a radical economic agenda. The goal of the People’s Convention is to unite thousands of delegates from all over the country to build the power and momentum needed to fight back, and to win. At CPD’s first national People’s Convention, movement leaders will convene to learn, strategize, and drive a shared organizing agenda to light an urgent, national fire on issues of justice, forcing action at the scale and at the rate truly needed to address the crises we face.
Sankofa.org is deeply shocked and saddened by the terrible tragedy that took place in Orlando over the weekend, and sends heartfelt condolences to the victims, families, and communities impacted by this senseless act of violence. The United States is past the point of urgency in taking an undivided stand against the pervasive culture of violence that continues to claim and destroy countless everyday lives.
A presentation by the Actor's Gang called Lyrics From Lockdown in LA put a magnifying glass on America's mass incarceration problem. The two-week run of this groundbreaking production told the story of Bryonn Bain, an actor, author, and hip-hop artist who was wrongly imprisoned in NYC jails while studying at Harvard. The show ran in Culver City this past February.
Signed by over 1000 international leaders including 27 members of the House of Representatives and 6 U.S. Senators, the letter stated that the international status quo of criminalizing drug use “has proven disastrous for global health, security and human rights.” The letter was published just days before the UN General Assembly held a major international drug summit. Signatories included current and former law enforcement officials, clergy, members of the health and medical community, as well as business leaders, entertainers and athletes such as DJ Khaled, Michael Douglas, Tom Brady, Warren Buffet and Sankofa.org artists John Legend and Macklemore. Two presidential candidates, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, also signed.
How did you get started on your path to Activism?
Given the story, or the series of events that shaped my young life, activism wasn’t something I was even introduced to until 18 or 19 years old. Simultaneously while I was going through foster care, group homes, etcetera… my father was in jail. I actually met my dad for the very first time through a glass wall. One thing I didn’t know was that while he was in prison he was educating himself on how people who were turning to communities from incarceration could make a major impact on their community, both socially and politically. So when he came home I was in juvenile detention and while I was going through my troubles as a teenager he was steadily climbing the political ladder. In Philadelphia he worked with Mayor John Street who had really taken an interest in how can ex-offenders play a role in re-shaping society once they come home, from voting rights to tax credits for companies that hire ex-offenders to my father actually helping then-Mayor John Street create the first in history Mayor’s Office of Ex-Offender Re-entry. I just want to put in an asterisk that despite all these accolades that he acquired that doesn’t automatically equate to him being a good dad. I just always want to put that in context.
Smith's death was followed by a week-long mob-driven manhunt in which at least 13 people were killed. Among those whom the mob killed was another black man, Hayes Turner, who was seized from custody after his arrest on the morning of 18 May 1918 and lynched. Distraught, his eight-month pregnant wife Mary denied that her husband had been involved in Smith's killing, publicly opposed her husband's murder, and threatened to have members of the mob arrested. The mob then turned against her, determined to "teach her a lesson."
The audience was riveted by poignant personal stories told by Linda Powell (Colin Powell’s daughter), Gina Belafonte (Harry Belafonte’s daughter), Hasna Muhammad and Nora Day (daughters of Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis), Suzanne Kay (daughter of Diahann Carroll) and Sade Lythcott (daughter of Dr. Barbara Ann Teer). With much humor and warmth, some of the women spoke of being inspired to activism by their parent’s lives. Others highlighted sacrifices that were made. Mr. Harry Belafonte who was in the audience talked about his one-time criticism of Colin Powell and said he’d attended the event, in part, to hear what Linda Powell had to say and that he was deeply moved.
“I’m honored to link another generation of the Belafonte family to the legacy of resistance kept alive by generations of the Rosenberg/Meeropol family,” notes Gina. “And as an artist, activist and parent, I’m proud to endorse this organization that has created a unique and vital community of support for the families of those targeted in the fight for justice.”
Sankofa.org's Gina Belafonte played a very active leadership role working on the ground with media as well as such artists as Stevie Wonder, Estelle, Janelle Monae, Jussie Smollett, and Robert Glasper. Along with the New World Foundation, Sankofa.org was also able to donate much needed funds to #JusticeForFlint. The event raised over $100,000 for Flint. To donate, text JUSTICE to 83224.
Since it was announced that I was receiving this honor, I have been deeply moved by how many of you have shared with me that I made a difference in your lives. But I am here today in no small part because you used your power to decide how and by whom you would be represented. Indeed, I stood up for you, but I was able to do so because you stood with me.
Bogota, Colombia — Che “Rhymefest” and Jasiri X have formed a new Hip-Hop Super Group, “Kill Switch”. Doing what they do best, the duo is currently traveling through the country of Colombia, creating revolutionary music and videos as they simultaneously lead a team comprised of artists and activists, to raise awareness around UNGASS (Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly on the World Drug Problem). They’ll be exploring, documenting and reporting on how drug policies that originate in the United States, directly connects to the global war on drugs impacting mass incarceration, narcotics proliferation and individual lives. In late 2015, the “Open Society Foundations” awarded 1Hood Media with support to explore this topic. As such, Rhymefest & Jasiri X will be interviewing the Mayor of Bogota Colombia, speaking with Arts & Culture experts in Cartagena and visiting the childhood home of the late Pablo Escobar in Medellin.