Charlamagne, Yo Gotti And More Stand Up For Justice At Roc Nation Summit
The Social Justice Summit brought together celebrities, leaders and advocates to discuss a host of issues.
July 27, 2022 at 1:13 pm
As Blavity previously reported, Jay-Z‘s Roc Nation and the United Justice Coalition organized its first-ever Social Justice Summit this summer. The summit convened in New York City, bringing together celebrities, experts and political and community leaders to discuss a host of issues facing the Black community and other populations. Here are five highlights from the summit.
Charlamagne tha God spoke on mental health and criminal justice
The first panel of the summit, titled The Decriminalization of Mental Health, was hosted by radio star Charlamagne tha God, who has spoken about mental health care many times in the past. Other guests on the panel included psychologist and advocate Dr. Alfiee Breland Noble and New York State Attorney Letitia James, who has been focusing recently on the mental health crisis facing New York state and the many ways in which people with mental health issues remain vulnerable to police and the criminal justice system.
Yo Gotti continues his campaign against Parchman prison
Yo Gotti appeared on a panel bringing attention to the horrible conditions of Mississippi’s Parchman maximum security prison. The panel, hosted by MSNBC correspondent Ari Melber, featured Cheryl Henderson, whose son Chadarion Henderson died while in custody at Parchman under unclear circumstances. Gotti who grew up in nearby Memphis, Tenn., has previously joined Jay-Z in publicly condemning the inhumane treatment of inmates at the facility, with Team ROC filing lawsuits against the prison on behalf of dozens of people incarcerated there. Earlier this year, the U.S. Justice Department agreed with them, putting out a statement that declared the prison’s conditions violated the constitutional rights of those incarcerated there, including the ban on cruel and unusual punishment.
Coach Popovich laments the state of the country and celebrates the Innocence Project
Outspoken San Antonio Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich appeared at the summit and bemoaned the injustices running rampant in the United States. “I don’t have the answers, but it pisses me off, it hurts me, it confounds me,” he said of the country’s current state. “I knew there were racists,” he said with outrage in his voice, “but I didn’t know it was to this level.”
Popovich’s speech was given in honor of attorney Barry Scheck, who was being honored for his role as co-founder of the Innocence Project. Popovich notes that the Innocence Project has led to 375 people being exonerated, a huge accomplishment, but one that represents just the beginning of the work that needs to be done.
Lawmakers call for accountability and passing the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act
A panel featuring New York Congressman Hakeem Jeffries and Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison focused on accountability. Jeffries urged supporters to vote while declaring that voters must hold their government officials accountable. Noting that he had successfully prosecuted Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd, Ellison states that this was only the beginning and that large-scale reform was needed. He set out the mission now to “find officers who want to see reform together with people who desperately demand it,” so that the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act could be passed. “I don’t care if we get Republican votes to pass it, we’ve got to pass it.”
Dr. Bernice A. King gives new perspective on organizing
In a panel titled Family Matters: From Anger to Advocacy, Dr. Bernice A. King — daughter of Martin Luther King, Jr. and a renowned organizer in her own right — discussed the challenges and opportunities for organizing. Laying out a distinction between the passion to act and the abilities that allow for effective action, King urged her audience to rethink organizing. “Many times it’s passion that ignites us, but it’s strength that’s going to be able to create effective longstanding change that has sustainability.” Comparing the current moment to the Civil Rights Movement of her father, she discussed how to identify the human and financial resources that exist within the Black community.
These people and many others kept up the call for renewed efforts toward justice at the summit. With so much work left to be done and a heated election cycle already begun, the types of activism displayed during this summit must be replicated and expanded to truly achieve change.