Barry Jenkins, Questlove Among Those Launching Black Artists for Freedom Collective

The collective published a powerful artists' statement on Juneteenth

2020 Film Independent Spirit Awards - Arrivals
Barry Jenkins attends the 2020 Film Independent Spirit Awards on February 08, 2020 in Santa Monica, California.
Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

On Friday, a coalition of over a thousand leading musicians, filmmakers, writers and artists announced a new initiative to advance the cause of racial justice across creative and artistic disciplines. This is Black Artists for Freedom, described on their website as “a collective of black workers in the culture industries.” Much of the site includes an Artists’ Statement, stating solidarity with activists working around the country and demanding changes within the art and culture industries.

As Ryan Lattanzio at IndieWire reports, the list of signers of the statement include an impressive amount of talented artists:

The names among the coalition include Barry Jenkins, Ava DuVernay, Lena Waithe, Dee Rees, Questlove, John Legend, Trevor Noah, Roxane Gay, Sterling K. Brown, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Gabrielle Union, Thandie Newton, Jelani Cobb, Niecy Nash, Craig T. Williams, Tessa Thompson, Thandie Newton, Debbie Allen, Lupita Nyong’o, David Oyelowo, and Cynthia Erivo.

The full statement from Black Artists for Freedom is well worth reading, if you haven’t done so already. Among other things, it calls for cultural institutions to break their ties with police, hire more Black artists and curators and be more aware of systemic racism and its effects.

The statement also makes a direct connection between the work of Black Artists for Freedom and the protests occurring across the country:

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. Their courage and imagination have inspired us to build on their necessary demands — including, chiefly, the abolition of police and the complete dismantling of the racist prison-industrial system.

The collective covers a lot of ground in their statement, offering a number of pathways towards a better tomorrow.

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