grammy-winning singer john legend wants to end mass incarceration. legend announced on monday the multi-year initiative, free america. he'll visit and perform at a correctional facility on thursday in austin, texas; where he'll also take part in a press conference with state legislators to discuss texas' criminal justice system.
legend said, "we have a serious problem with incarceration in this country. it's destroying families, it's destroying communities and we're the most incarcerated country in the world, and when you look deeper and look at the reasons we go to this place, we as a society made some choices politically and legislatively, culturally to deal with poverty, deal with mental illness in a certain way, and that way usually involves using incarceration."
legend, 36, will also visit a california state prison and co-host a criminal justice event with politico in washington, d.c. later this month. the campaign will include participation from other artists - to be announced - and various organizations committed to ending mass incarceration.
legend's speech at the oscars this year resonated with people who share his views. he won best original song for "glory" from the film selma, with actor/rapper common. "i'm just trying to create some more awareness on this issue and trying to make some real change legislatively. and we're not the only ones. there are senators that are looking at this, like rand paul and cory booker, there are other nonprofits that are looking at this, and i just wanted to add my voice to that," legend said.
the singer/songwriter feels an early victory for his campaign was the approval of proposition 47 in california in november. the progressive initiative calls for treating shoplifting, forgery, fraud, petty theft and possession of small amounts of drugs - including cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine - as misdemeanors, instead of felonies.
"once you have that tag of a felony on your name, it's hard for you to do anything. getting those reduced to mmisdemeanors really impacted a lot of lives and we hope to launch more initiatives like that around the country," legend said.
- mark j. tuggle
- harlem, usa
- same-gender-loving contemporary descendant of enslaved africans. community activist, feminist, health educator, independent filmmaker, mentor, playwright, poet & spiritual being. featured at, in & on africana.com, afrikan poetry theatre, angel herald, bejata dot com, bet tonight with tavis smiley, blacklight online, black noir, brooklyn moon cafe, gmhc's barbershop, klmo-fm, lgbt community services center, longmoor productions, nuyorican poets cafe, our corner, poz, pulse, rolling out new york, rush arts gallery, saint veronica's church, schomburg center for research in black culture, sexplorations, the citizen, the new york times, the soundz bar, the trenton times, the village voice, upn news, uzuri, venus, vibe, wbai-fm, wnyc-fm & wqht-fm. volunteered with adodi, bailey house, inc., black men's xchange-new york, colorofchange.org, drug policy alliance, east harlem tutorial program, imagenation film & music festival, presente.org, save darfur coalition, the enough project, the osborne association, the sledge group & your black world. worked on films with maurice jamal & heather murphy. writing student of phil bertelsen & ed bullins. firstname.lastname@example.org.