Grammy award-winning songstress Alicia Keys has launched a $1 billion endowment to support Black businesses and communities. The NFL will be among the first to contribute to the organization.
Billboard reports the fund aims to support Black-owned businesses as the coronavirus pandemic restricts global economic markets and protests against police brutality have erupted around the country.
Keys said the fund originated from an idea to help evolve protests into tangible action and support for Black communities. The singer said she hopes to continue to develop the fund over the years, eventually exceeding the initial $1 billion endowment. Although none of the additional partners beyond the NFL have been announced, the "Underdog" singer intends to create a multi-sector partner pool for the fund.
"The initial goal of $1 billion is to ensure a substantial commitment," Keys said. "Even with that it does not come close to closing the economic gap. The next steps are to reach out to different industries to invite them to invest in racial justice and create a multi-billion dollar endowment across business sectors."
On Thursday, the singer announced the partnership with a performance of “Love Looks Better” to kickoff the NFL’s season.
Keys also penned a letter for Billboard elaborating on her decision to perform at the NFL’s concert and her vision for the fund.
“It's time for sustainable action. It’s time to speak and document the truth about what Black Americans are facing and owed,” she wrote.
“The system was never set up for everyone to have an equal chance. Black creativity and labor continue to be oppressed, exploited, appropriated, and under-compensated. And it’s still the case today that the color of your skin can be a death sentence like the needless killings of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Bree Black, Ahmaud Arbery, and too many others,” she added.
Since last summer, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has campaigned for the league to take a more prominent stand against social injustice. Last August, the league announced a deal with music mogul JAY Z and Roc Nation to partner on social justice initiatives and other endeavors through the NFL’s Inspire Change nonprofit as Blavity previously reported.
The partnership with Roc Nation, which manages Keys, was initially widely criticized after the football league blackballed former San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick for kneeling during the national anthem in protest of police brutality.
In August, Goodell appeared on an episode of Uncomfortable Conversations With A Black Man featuring former NFL player Emmanuel Acho. Goodell expressed remorse for how the league handled Kaepernick’s protest.
"I wish we had listened earlier, Kaep, to what you were kneeling about and what you were trying to bring attention to," Goodell said.
Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man: The National Anthem Protest- PT. 1
NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell, & I discuss Colin Kaepernick & the protests during the national anthem that polarized America. pic.twitter.com/PcL02732ys
— Emmanuel Acho (@EmmanuelAcho) August 23, 2020
After the killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers on May 25, Goodell and the NFL have enacted a number of adjustments to the presentation of the game. Some of the changes include social justice inspired messages painted into the endzones and decals printed on helmets featuring the names of police brutality victims.
Players can wear helmet decals with social justice related messages or the name of a victim of systemic racism. Coaches can wear patches. Via the team, here's a photo of linebacker Eric Kendricks' helmet with Breonna Taylor's name. pic.twitter.com/av34TT2n6M
— Andrew Krammer (@Andrew_Krammer) September 11, 2020
Keys, who will release her seventh studio album on Sept. 18, acknowledged football as a vehicle of social change and attributed Kaepernick’s sacrifice as motivation for her work with the NFL.
"The prospect of true generational wealth for the Black community is long overdue and I’m grateful to express my purpose as an artist to advance that cause. I’ve been deeply inspired by the courage of Colin Kaepernick and the determination I have to see this through is meant to honor his commitment to social justice," the self-titled mother, activist, artist said.