JAY-Z has taken to the nation’s top newspapers to decry the death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis P.D. custody. The 50-year-old mogul co-signed a full-page ad that included quotes from a 1965 speech that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave in Selma, AL during the height of the civil rights battle. The late leader spoke about standing up for justice in the face of police violence. Sadly, it is still a nationwide issue 55 years later. In the ad — which the rapper signed with his name “Shawn ‘JAY-Z’ Carter” — the quote from MLK read: “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.”
It continued, “So we’re going to stand up amid horses. We’re going to stand up right here in Alabama, amid the billy-clubs. We’re going to stand up right here in Alabama 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!”
Protests across the country erupted following the viral video of a handcuffed and unarmed Floyd, 46, pleading that he couldn’t breathe while white police officer Derek Chauvin, 44, kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes during a May 25 arrest. Floyd fell unconscious and later died. The officer was fired and later arrested and charged on May 29 with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in connection with Floyd’s death.
Jay’s Roc Nation entertainment agency posted the ad to their Instagram page on June 2 with the caption, “In dedication to George Floyd. #BlackLivesMatter #JusticeforGeorgeFloyd.” Not only did the company co-sign the ad, so did several relatives who have lost loved ones to police violence.
Michelle Kenney, the mother of Antwon Rose II, was included among the signers. She lost her 17-year-old son on June 19, 2018 when the unarmed black teen was fatally shot by police in East Pittsburgh, PA. The sister of of Botham Jean also signed the ad. The unarmed 26-year-old black accountant was shot and killed inside his Dallas apartment by an off-duty Dallas P.D. officer in 2019, after she mistook his unit for hers.
Benjamin Crump, the lawyer for George Floyd’s family, was also among the signees, in addition to advocacy groups including The Innocence Project, Until Freedom and the Women’s Global Initiative. The powerful ad appeared on Tues. June 2 in the The New York Times, The Denver Post, The Chicago Tribune, The Los Angeles Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Austin American Statement, The Orlando Sentinel and The Atlanta Journal Constitution. The full-page spread will be added to more newspapers throughout the country on Wed. June 3, according to CNN.