John Legend calls for racial equality

Los Angeles, Feb 6 (IANS) Amid the growing diversity debate over this year’s Oscar nominations, Oscar and Grammy Award-winning musician John Legend has urged his fellow artistes to stand up and use their voice to fight for racial equality in the US while picking up the NAACP President’s Award.

The artiste delivered the emotional speech on racism while accepting the honour at the NAACP Image Awards on Friday night, reports thedailybeast.com.

“We know that we stand on the shoulders of giants who risked their lives to bring us closer to true freedom. And of course, we are still fighting for freedom,” he began moments after singer Alice Smith delivered a powerful rendition of “Glory” – his Oscar-winning “Selma” song – with hip-hop artiste Common.

The singer, who also performed his hit song “Ordinary people” at the annual gala, added: “Today, communities of colour are still being crushed by a criminal justice system that over-polices us, over-arrests us, over-incarcerates us, and disproportionately takes the lives of our young people because of the simple fact that our skin conjures the image of threat and violence.”

Legend appealed to his fellow artistes as he said: “I am hopeful that our generation will demand and achieve radical change in our lifetime.”

He shared: “And as artistes-all these wonderful artistes in this room – we have always played a role in these movements. Our predecessors marched, they wrote songs, they met with political leaders, they provided financial support.

“Now, some will call you divisive for speaking out for a disenfranchised people. Some will call you a radical for calling for justice for all. Some will take offense when we have to assert that our lives should indeed matter, just as much as anyone else’s. Some will call you the real racist for daring to call out racial inequality. But they know better. And we certainly know better.”

The NAACP Image Awards aims at celebrating many cultures in the US. The ceremony was held at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium.

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