Goapele, DeVon Franklin, Cynthia Bailey join new Instagram live series to fundraise for criminal justice reform organizations

NATIONWIDE — Today, the REPRESENT JUSTICE Campaign launched a series of Instagram Live events — titled #InfluentialJustice —  featuring influential names in the sports and entertainment industries. The goal is to organize critical funds for incarcerated communities in the fight against COVID-19. 

The participating artists, athletes, and cultural figures will join surrogates and ambassadors of REPRESENT JUSTICE, all of whom are formerly incarcerated, to discuss why coronavirus will have a disproportionate toll on incarcerated communities, and what can be done to protect lives inside the facilities. The first virtual event will take place April 7 with artist Raja Kumari and producer and organizer Richie Reseda.

“Incarceration — the inhumanity of caging human beings — is a traumatic experience, but even more so when there is a deadly pandemic and no feasible way to ‘socially distance’ and access necessary medical care inside. For those who are incarcerated, music can be one of the few things that create joy, especially in frightful and uncertain times,” said Richie Reseda, REPRESENT JUSTICE album executive producer and activist. “When I was incarcerated, music was a way to work through my hopelessness in frightful and uncertain times. Now it’s also a way for me to advocate for justice and the humanity of everyone forced to live in crowded, unsanitary conditions without the freedom to leave.” 

The REPRESENT JUSTICE Campaign organized the series to raise funds for organizations that work with incarcerated and system-impacted communities as they grapple with the health and economic ramifications of the COVID-19 crisis. Incarcerated individuals are at greater risk due to close quarters, lack of proper sanitization, and poor medical facilities and testing. Rates of infection in prison facilities are growing rapidly.

“Nobody — including those who are incarcerated and their families — should be left behind in this emergency,” said Raja Kumari, Indian-American rapper and songwriter, who participated in the first virtual event. “We can support system-impacted communities by donating critical resources to the organizations fighting for their access to critical food, supplies, and medical care. I’m proud to work with REPRESENT JUSTICE in this moment, contribute my musical talents to the album, and bring awareness to what each of us on the outside can do to help.”

The series is one of many the Campaign has organized to engage audiences and spark collective action to demand a fair legal system, dignity for system-impacted communities, and an end to extreme sentencing. In December, the Campaign organized a concert and roundtable conversation with Grammy award-winning rapper and activist Common, in addition to  Play for Justice, a partnership with the Sacramento Kings, Milwaukee Bucks, Los Angeles Lakers, and Cleveland Cavaliers, where coaches and players from various teams played basketball and engaged in meaningful conversations with incarcerated individuals. 

#InfluentialJustice will be live on REPRESENT JUSTICE’s Instagram (@werepjustice) every Tuesday and Saturday in April, with influencers such as George Hill, Goapele, DeVon Franklin, Cynthia Bailey, Mike Hill, Shaka Sengor, The Professor and Syncopated Ladies. 

The following dates have been confirmed:

  • April 7  – Raja Kumari and Richie Reseda
  • April 11  – The Professor and Jarrett Harper
  • April 14 – DeVon Franklin and Topeka K Sam
  • April 18 – Syncopated Ladies and April Grayson
  • April 21 – Goapele and Bobby Gonz
  • April 25 – Cynthia Bailey/Mike Hill and Shaka Sengor 
  • April 28 – George Hill and Xavier McElrath-Bey