February 26, 2012, was the final day of the annual NBA All-Star weekend. Thousands of people flooded Amway Center in Orlando, Florida, to watch the West ultimately beat the East by a score of 152-149. No one knew that just a few hours away in Miami Gardens, our lives would be changed forever by the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Almost five years later and our community is as woke as ever, shedding light on police brutality and the devastating toll it has taken on families throughout our nation and even the world.
Social justice organization, Sanfoka, founded by Harry Belafonte back in 2013 is an organization connecting artists and grassroots leaders together to work against injustice. If the past they’ve organized gatherings such as Many Rivers to Cross, and partnered with the Blackout for Human Rights and Justice for Flint call to action. They have recently teamed up with Tidal, Jay Z’s streaming service, to premiere a project that will honor those who have lost their lives due to racial violence and police brutality.
According to Billboard, The 17-minute visual EP, 17, pays tribute to Trayvon Martin, through several chapters titled “Innocence,” “Daydream,” “Twilight,” and “Resist”, while following a teenaged boy named Jacobi Nelson as he contemplates a college scholarship before facing a dark encounter with police. The project features several tracks from artists such as Ty Dolla $ign, Raphael Saadiq, Mali Music, John Legend, Andra Day and many others.
“Artists are the gatekeepers of truth and have a unique opportunity to instruct as well as entertain," Belafonte tells Billboard in a statement. "17 is a powerful visual meant to shift the paradigm of racial bias and illuminate the prolific issue of the carnage besieging black and brown communities all across this country."
17 was conceptualized by writer/director duo Gerard Bush and Christopher Renz, who recently released the “Against The Wall” PSA starring Michael B. Jordan, Danny Glover, and Michael K. Williams. Stream 17 in full via TIDAL here.