Usher has written a powerful new essay calling for change on Juneteenth – the annual commemoration day to mark the emancipation of slavery in the US.
Writing in the Washington Post to coincide with the day, Usher has called for politicians to recognise the day as a national holiday and for citizens to support black-owned business today and in the future.
Under the headline ‘Why it’s so important that Juneteenth become a national holiday,’ Usher said the day should unite the US. “It should be a national holiday, observed by all Americans,” he wrote.
“As an artist, it is my duty to reflect the trying times in which we live. My heart is shattered by the ongoing injustices in this country, incited by its long history of racism that has led to deadly outcomes for too many of our people. This country must change. And it must change quickly,” he continued.
“As we celebrate today, let’s stay open to possibility. Let’s support black-owned businesses today and every day. Let’s uplift our resilient history. Let’s honour our people. Happy Juneteenth, America.”
Earlier today, 12-year-old Keedron Bryant’s a cappella song, ‘I Just Wanna Live’ was released to coincide with ‘Juneteenth’.
The video of Bryant’s emotive performance, which was uploaded the day after Floyd died in police custody, soon went viral as a result of its powerful message and was shared by Barack Obama, LeBron James, Janet Jackson and Lupita Nyong’o. It has now been viewed on Instagram over 3.2 million times.
Speaking about the song and its reach, Bryant said he thought there was “still hope…that we can change the world.”
In the song, Bryant sings: “I’m a young black man, doing all that I can to stand/Oh, but when I look around, and I see what’s being done to my kind/Every day I’m being hunted as prey/My people don’t want no trouble.”
As reported on Sky News, Chris Atlas from Warner Records spoke about how much the record “moved” him when he first heard it. He said: “I was already moved by the record, but hearing the vocals over the production, it just hit me in another way.
“I was like, ‘Wow this is an amazing song.’ We should be a part of making sure the world hears this on a larger capacity but then also donate proceeds from the song to the right cause. That’s actually giving back and using music as a healing mechanism, which I truly believe it is.”