IMG_5492aHip-Hop Artists Jasiri X, Monie Love, David Banner, Chuck D, & Talib Kweli at the initial launch of  Harry Belafonte’s Sankofa (Photo by Paradise Gray)


Last June, I was blessed to be one of the Hip-Hop artists invited to hear from the legendary Harry Belafonte about the launch of a new organization called Sankofa. Sankofa is a social justice organization founded by Harry Belafonte that enlists the support of today’s most celebrated artists and influential individuals in collaboration with grassroots partners to elevate the voices of the disenfranchised, and to promote peace and equality. Mr. Belafonte spoke passionately about artists using our voices to raise awareness about issues that directly effect our community like mass incarceration,  child incarceration, and violence, particularly against women.

This week Sankofa launched it’s website with the intention of reigniting the activist tradition. According to the website, “Artists and performers are in a unique position to shape our society’s cultural and moral destiny – to cast light on pressing issues and to use their creative gifts to inspire action. When they use their platform to speak up on matters of political and social urgency, the impact is profound and lasting.” Mr. Belafonte often speaks of the impact of the mentorship he received from Paul Robeson, who told him, “artists are the gatekeepers of truth”. At age 87, it’s wonderful to see Mr. Belafonte use his time and energy to mentor the next generation of artist/activists, and I’m humbled and honored to be included in that number.