Rep. Hakeem Jeffries on Meek Mill, Activism and Voting ‘Like Your Life Depends on It’

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries on Meek Mill, Activism and Voting ‘Like Your Life Depends on It’

Wednesday marked the start of Congressional Black Caucus’ 48th Annual Legislative Agenda. The group has spent many years combating for the US’ Black neighborhood by “creating leaders, informing coverage and educating the general public,” in keeping with its mission assertion.

EBONY and Common Music Group have joined forces with Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) to host the “Artists, Activism and the Legal Justice System” panel on Friday, Sept. 14 from 2 p.m. to four p.m. EST at this yr’s convention, which might be live-streamed on EBONY’s Fb web page.

Rep. Jeffries spoke to EBONY concerning the panel, which might be moderated by CNN political commentator Van Jones and characteristic rapper Meek Mill, how artists have used activism of their work and why it’s necessary to exit and vote on Nov. 6.

Are you able to inform us concerning the “Artists, Activism and the Legal Justice System” panel? What can we anticipate?

The panel will discover the intertwined historical past of music, artists and activism that dates again to the early days of the Civil Rights Motion all over the up to date moments that we discover ourselves in proper now.

Musicians and artists have all the time performed an necessary position in actions for change all through African-American historical past within the U.S. There’s an expectation in our neighborhood that when one is profitable, partially due to their connection to the Black neighborhood, it’s necessary for them to make use of that success to permit others to climb the ladder and attain the American dream.

Are you able to give us an instance or examples of an artist who’s completely killing it within the realm of music and activism?

The present artists stand on the shoulders of people like Harry Belafonte and Aretha Franklin, who have been extremely necessary leaders and allies to the Civil Rights Motion, Martin Luther King Jr. and so many others who fought for historic passage for issues such because the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act.

With respect to the panel on the Congressional Black Caucus Basis occasion, we’re happy that Meek Mill will be a part of us as a logo of the modern-day artist who has used the ache of his personal private expertise with the prison justice system to attempt to create a motion for progress with respect for others.

It’s usually the case that people who themselves have personally sacrificed will be forceful and genuine spokespeople for the change that needs to be caused in America. An instance of this within the sports activities enviornment could be Muhammad Ali.

Meek Mill falls squarely into that class, as a person who’s an extremely proficient and revered up to date artist, however somebody who can also be prepared to make use of the advantage of his platform to raise others and make a distinction.

Are you able to share the panel members with the EBONY viewers?

The moderator might be Van Jones, the well-known CNN political commentator and prison justice reform activist.

Meek Mill, representing the up to date inventive neighborhood. Professor Michael Eric Dyson, who’s a sociology professor at Georgetown College and has written quite a few books on people equivalent to Malcolm X and Tupac Shakur. Jeffrey Harleston, who’s the final counsel for Common Music Group, [which] has a historical past of artists who’ve engaged in activism. The ultimate panelist is Michelle Scott, who’s an affiliate professor of historical past on the College of Maryland-Baltimore County. Her experience is in U.S. historical past, Black musical tradition and social justice.

Now we have a panel that features the artist and business leaders in addition to college professors, public intellectuals, and pulling all of it collectively is Van Jones.

Do you suppose the artists and musicians who use activism of their work are profitable in getting their message throughout?

The mass incarceration epidemic that inflicts America is deeply ingrained. One of many causes it’s necessary to have artists like Meek Mill concerned within the effort to safe prison justice reform is as a result of we’re combating towards an entrenched system. Everybody has a job to play, however artists like Meek Mill and Frequent, who’s actively [involved]  in training reform efforts, and JAY-Z, who has pushed philanthropic work and has achieved so much for social justice efforts, are unbelievable assets because it pertains to attempting to proceed America’s lengthy march towards a extra excellent union.

The hassle to reform our prison justice system and to remake social justice change in Trump’s America might be troublesome, nevertheless it takes an all-hands-on-deck strategy, which is why having the energetic participation of high-profile artists is crucial.

Why is the Congressional Black Caucus is necessary? 

Biggie Smalls

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries

The Congressional Black Caucus is extensively thought to be the conscience of the Congress. [We’ve consistently pushed] for social and financial change on behalf of the African-American neighborhood and different disenfranchised communities all through the U.S.

Over our 45-plus-year historical past, the CBC has been accountable for lots of the progress that has been made legislatively to enhance the standard of lifetime of all People, usually, and the African-American neighborhood, particularly. In instances like this, the place our nice President Barack Obama has left the constructing and the Hater-in-Chief is presently at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue within the type of Donald Trump, it’s extremely necessary that the Black neighborhood has forceful illustration within the U.S. Home of Representatives and the Senate.

The CBC is prepared, prepared and capable of fill that position and to guide the cost for change.

What’s it prefer to be a member of the Congressional Black Caucus when Donald Trump is President? 

There was no higher time to be a member of Congress through the presidency of Barack Obama. There’s no extra necessary time within the 21st century to be a member of Congress than this current second.

We’re pushing again towards the regressive right-wing Trump agenda, all day, each day. It’s an honor and a privilege to signify the individuals of the eighth Congressional District in Brooklyn and Queens. The entire members of the Congressional Black Caucus take our roles severely as guardians of our democracy and provocateurs of social and financial change within the U.S.

There isn’t a extra crucial time than the one which we discover ourselves in in the meanwhile. Most of the issues that civil rights neighborhood leaders fought for within the 1950s and 1960s are susceptible to being rolled again. We can’t enable that to occur.

We’ve seen a surge of Black political candidates working for workplace and successful their primaries. What are your ideas on this current progressive wave? Do you suppose it’s a fantastic signal of the Democratic Social gathering? 

It’s necessary that authorities at each degree appears just like the individuals we’re charged to signify. The explosion of profitable African-American and feminine candidates all through the nation, together with in Florida and Georgia on the gubernatorial degree, is a good factor for our democracy. The younger numerous African-American candidates, who’ve been profitable, will assist carry the Democratic Social gathering over the end line in lots of races that in any other case may not have been aggressive. 

The first season has been a beautiful factor. The dynamic group of candidates which have emerged, together with Andrew Gillum and Stacey Abrams, is an outstanding factor to witness. I sit up for [supporting both of them].

Is there something you wish to inform the EBONY viewers forward of the midterm elections? 

It’s extremely necessary to take the time to vote in these crucial midterm elections. [Vote] like your life relies upon on it as a result of your high quality of life completely relies upon on who’s in charge of the Home and the Senate.  

The Trump administration has been characterised by outrageous, xenophobic and, at instances, bigoted habits. It’s necessary for everyone within the African-American neighborhood to hashtag #RememberinNovember and get on the market and vote.

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