On Tuesday, June 2, as the nation entered it's sixth day of protest against over the death of George Floyd - an unarmed black man killed in broad daylight at the hands of the Minneapolis Police Department - rapper Shawn 'JAY-Z' Carter and his Roc Nation brand took out full page advertisements in newspapers across the country to honor his name and call for social change.
Featuring a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. from a speech he made in Selma, Alabama in 1965, which perfectly encapsulates the dire importance of standing up in the face of oppression, the ad ran in Tuesday's editions of The New York Times, The Denver Post, The Chicago Tribune, The Los Angeles Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Austin American Statesman, The Orlando Sentinel and The Atlanta Journal Constitution, among others - and will run in additional papers on Wednesday, June 3.
"Only way we can really achieve freedom is to somehow hunker the fear of death," the quote begins. "But if a man has not discovered something that he will die for, he isn't fit to live. Deep down in our nonviolent creed is the conviction - that there are some things so dear, so things so precious, so things so eternally true, that they are worth dying for."
"A man dies when he refuses to stand up for that which is right. A man dies when he refuses to stand up for justice. A man dies when he refuses to take a stand for that which is true," Dr. King said. "So we’re going to stand up amid horses. We’re going to stand up right here, amid the billy-clubs. We’re going to stand up right here amid police dogs, if they have them. We’re going to stand up amid tear gas! We're going to stand up amid anything they can muster up, letting the world know that we are determined to be free!"
The advertisement was signed by Carter, along with the parents of Botham Jean, DJ Henry, and Antwon Rose II - three separate but equally important young black men killed at the hands of police - author and news commentator Van Jones, Floyd family lawyer Benjamin Crump, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, as well as advocacy organisations including The Innocence Project and Until Freedom among others.
Police in different states have been handling the social unrest in major cities in markedly opposing ways - some taking a knee in support, while others suppress - further highlighting the injustices the protesters are crying out about in real time.
JAY-Z, for his part, has been at the frontline lending his support and voice to the movement any way he can.
Over the weekend, Carter got on a call with Minnesota Governor Tim Walz to discuss holding "all those responsible for the murder of George Floyd to the fullest extent of the law," adding, “I prevail on every politician, prosecutor, and officer in the country to have the courage to do what is right. Have the courage to look at us as humans, dads, brothers, sisters, and mothers in pain. And look at yourselves.”