Roc Nation To Assemble United Justice Coalition Before Midterm Elections
The summit will bring together entertainers, activists and more to mobilize voters and address the country's most pressing social issues.
May 20, 2022 at 1:15 pm
Roc Nation, the entertainment company founded by Jay-Z in 2008, will hold its first social justice summit in New York on July 23, ABC News reports. Roc nation’s managing director of philanthropy, Dania Diaz, told ABC News that the summit “is an opportunity for people to really learn about issues that impact their communities — issues that are going to inevitably come up in midterm elections,” adding that she hopes participation in the summit will “drive action.”
Mobilizing the United Justice Coalition
The summit is being held under the banner of the United Justice Coalition, which describes itself as “a charitable organization that works across disciplines to raise awareness around key social justice issues and the need for criminal justice reform.” The organization, founded in 2019, lists several celebrities, media figures and activists among its board members, including media personalities Van Jones, Gayle King and Charlamagne Tha God; attorneys S. Lee Merritt and Benjamin Crump; and activists Tamika Mallory and Tiffany Crutcher.
Roc Nation's history of social justice activity
The creation of this organization was part of Roc Nation’s overall campaign to tackle issues of justice. Also in 2019, Roc Nation announced a long-term partnership with the NFL to a social issues, a decision that was highly controversial at the time due to the league’s blackballing of quarterback Colin Kaepernick. In 2020, Jay-Z and Yo Gotti led Roc Nation’s Team Roc department in filing a series of lawsuits against the Mississippi Department of Corrections on behalf of incarcerated individuals claiming that the state’s prison system has been keeping them in inhumane conditions.
Last year, Roc Nation sued the Kansas City Police Department for a pattern of alleged abuses committed by that city’s police force. The upcoming summit, however, notes an expansion of the company’s activism to include explicitly political mobilization.
Anticipating an important midterm election
The July summit comes at a pivotal time for the country, just months before the November midterm elections. With ongoing issues such as inflation and the COVID-19 pandemic, Republicans are favored to make gains in the November vote. Such GOP victories would likely further stall the agenda of President Joe Biden‘s administration and hasten Republican efforts to restrict voting rights, abortion access and education concerning racism, LGBTQ+ identities and more. Voter suppression laws and redistricting policies passed by Republican-controlled state governments also give the GOP an edge in the upcoming vote in many states.
Overcoming voter apathy and disillusionment
Despite the high stakes of the upcoming election, the lack of movement by the Biden administration and Democratic-controlled Congress on issues ranging from police reform to student debt relief all threaten to depress voter turnout among Democratic constituencies, including Black voters. The Roc Nation summit is one effort to push back against voter no-shows and mobilize Black voters to go to the polls.
Other notable figures and organizations are engaging in similar efforts. For instance, former First Lady Michelle Obama will deliver a keynote address at a June democracy summit sponsored by her non-partisan campaign When We All Vote, which is focused on voter mobilization and registration and guaranteeing equal access to all voters.
Amid such a charged and important election season, the Roc Nation summit hopes to make its impact in a way that mobilizes hip-hop culture to reach young voters in particular. “And so I think that when we talk about hip-hop, as a vehicle to move culture,” Diaz said of the summit, “it’s also a vehicle to address social justice issues and systemic problems.”