With the REPRESENT JUSTICE Campaign,
GRAMMY-AWARD WINNING RAPPER COMMON HOLDS CONCERT, ROUNDTABLE CONVERSATION WITH INCARCERATED INDIVIDUALS AT CALIFORNIA PRISON
Common joined by Bobby Gonz, a formerly incarcerated musician and surrogate of the REPRESENT JUSTICE Campaign, which seeks to uplift narratives of hope and redemption in justice reform
NATIONWIDE–On Friday, the REPRESENT JUSTICE Campaign—working together with the Anti-Recidivism Coalition and Imagine Justice—organized a concert and roundtable conversation between incarcerated individuals at a California correctional facility and Grammy and Academy-award winning rapper and activist, Common. The event, which took place at the California Rehabilitation Center (CRC) in Norco, California, emphasized the goals of the Campaign to lift up narratives of hope and redemption, while also breaking down stigmas associated with individuals—disproportionately people of color and the poor—who are impacted by the justice system.
“I do my best to use my platform to support the people who need a voice in the world,” said Common. “I’ve met some of the most incredible men and women in prison and I continue to work for criminal justice reforms. I’m proud to stand with REPRESENT JUSTICE on this important work.”
Sixteen incarcerated individuals attended the roundtable discussion and the subsequent 90-minute set with Common, who was joined by an ambassador of the REPRESENT JUSTICE Campaign, Bobby Gonz. Sentenced to life in prison at the age of 16, Gonz received a commutation from the Governor this year for his efforts at rehabilitation, motivated by his remorse. Upon his release, Gonz began using his platform to spread the healing power of music to transform lives. In addition to the musical performance, visual artist BMike painted a mural that day, over the course of five hours, which showed the power of art to reflect humanity’s potential.
“Music was how I expressed my thoughts and feelings about being thrown away by the system. Writing songs is how I endured my reality as a lifer, which then led me to encourage others to finally open up and do the same,” said Bobby Gonz, a REPRESENT JUSTICE Campaign ambassador and hip-hop artist. “In a place where only the strong survive, we came together through vulnerability and compassion and learned how true strength is only found when we embrace what we consider our weaknesses. I’m humbled to participate in the Campaign and perform with Common and to share my story with my brothers inside the California Rehabilitation Center.”
The performance is one of many initiatives the Campaign will coordinate to engage audiences and spark collective action to demand a fair legal system, dignity for system-impacted communities, and an end to extreme sentencing. Last month, the REPRESENT JUSTICE Campaign—working with world-renowned artist, JR, as well as the Anti-Recidivism Coalition–captured and pasted portraits of 48 formerly and currently incarcerated individuals at the California Correctional Institution in Tehachapi, California to create a large-scale mural in the facility’s yard.
“This concert, and many of the REPRESENT JUSTICE efforts in California, would not have been possible without the partnership and support of California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation,” said Scott Budnick, founder and CEO of One Community and the Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC). “We are working with many systems throughout the country on arts and culture programs inside prisons, and California leads the way on prioritizing rehabilitation and leading with hope.”
“We are grateful for artists like Common who use their platform to unapologetically take a stand for a justice system rooted in dignity,” said Sam Lewis, Executive Director of ARC. “It is a deeply moving experience for incarcerated people to hear first-hand from allies like Common, who they can count on to affirm their humanity when few other people will. That’s the first step to transformational change.”
Through art, storytelling, and values-based conversations focused on redemption, mercy, and the possibility of a second chance, the REPRESENT JUSTICE Campaign, in partnership with One Community, will aim to humanize incarcerated individuals in the media and public opinion, in order to bolster decarceration efforts, end extreme sentences, and catalyze criminal justice policy reforms. Campaign partners include: 8th Amendment Project, Alliance for Safety and Justice, Campaign for Fair Sentencing of Youth, Color Of Change, Healing Dialogue and Action, Prison Fellowship, The Justice Collaborative, The Innocence Project, The Sentencing Project, The Vera Institute for Justice, and Witness to Innocence.
Follow the conversation: www.representjustice.org or @werepjustice on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram. When sharing the Campaign, please consider using the hashtag #RepresentJustice.
About the REPRESENT JUSTICE Campaign:
Through stories of hope and redemption, REPRESENT JUSTICE will engage audiences and spark collective action that creates public demand for a fair legal system, dignity for system impacted communities, and an end to extreme sentences. The Campaign will work with a coalition of partners, artists, athletes and more to advance reform and build capacity for other organizations in the space.
About One Community:
One Community is a film, television, and new media company that uses the power of commercial storytelling to enable positive global social change. Their mission is to unite and mobilize the entertainment, philanthropic and legislative communities to act in concert. Each of their films have social impact campaigns that expand the message of the film into actionable goals and tangible changes.
About Anti-Recidivism Coalition:
The Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC) empowers formerly and currently incarcerated people to thrive by providing a support network, comprehensive reentry services, and opportunities to advocate for policy change. Through their policy advocacy, they are dedicated to transforming the criminal justice system so that it is more just and equitable for all people.
About Imagine Justice:
Centered at the intersection of art and activism, Imagine Justice is dedicated to leveraging the power of art to advocate for marginalized communities around the country and spark meaningful change, to fight for justice and equality and to stand united against injustice wherever it appears. Deeply rooted in love, compassion and kindness, Award Winning Artist and Activist Common’s Imagine Justice focuses on criminal justice reform, coalition/community building, immigration, mental health, arts advocacy and civic engagement. Stay connected @ImaginexJustice