Black Artists for Freedom, a new coalition of more than 1,000 actors, musicians, filmmakers, writers, painters, poets and others, launched Friday with a powerful statement on the occasion of Juneteenth, the holiday that celebrates the official end of slavery in the U.S. 155 years ago.
Signees include Barry Jenkins, Ava DuVernay, Dee Rees, Trevor Noah, Roxane Gay, Sterling K. Brown, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Gabrielle Union, Thandie Newton, Jelani Cobb, Niecy Nash, Lena Waithe, Tessa Thompson, Thandie Newton, Debbie Allen, Lupita Nyong’o, David Oyelowo, Cynthia Erivo and many others. The list includes Oscar, Grammy, Tony and Pulitzer winners along with emerging and elder artists.
“As Black artists and thinkers, we are energized by the current protest movement led by Black activists. They are working in the spirit of the Black Radical Tradition to reclaim our freedoms,” the group said in the statement, titled “Our Juneteenth.” It added: “Through this statement, we hope to amplify the movement’s work and to call out our own industries for what they are: institutions that promote colonialism, capitalism, and racism, and that function in exploitative and disruptive ways.”
The statement calls on cultural institutions to heed five calls, saying that as the “depend on Black culture — publishing, writing, fashion, theater, film, television, visual arts, music, journalism, scholarship, education, social media — must commit to racial justice through material changes.”
The five points:
- Break ties with the police
- Put their money where there mouths are,
- Advocate for black people
- Get educated
- Imagine black freedom
Read the full statement here.
Others prominent names on the impressive list included John Legend, Jason Moran, Bill Duke, Marlon James, Jamaica Kincaid and Questlove.