Jay Z has urged Americans to come together and organise if they want to see real changes in society.
The rap icon and businessman made his comments at the Sundance Film Festival after the screening of the first two episodes of TIME: The Kalief Browder Story, the docuseries he has co-produced with Harvey Weinstein about the 16-year-old Bronx teenager who was wrongfully imprisoned in Rikers Island for three years for stealing a backpack.
The teenager was held in solitary confinement for 800 days, and two years after he was released without charge, he committed suicide.
Jay met Browder after reading his story in the New York Times which he revealed affected him deeply.
"It took me a while to really come to terms with what just happened to this young man. Remember: He’s 16 when he gets arrested," he told The Daily Beast during a post-screening Q&A. "He never was convicted and was ultimately dismissed of his charge. So I still couldn’t come to terms with it."
“One day I see (Barack) Obama on TV and he’s speaking about Kalief and is signing into law that minors cannot be in solitary confinement," he said explaining how he came to the project. "So these things start happening—the conversation with Obama, these guys brought me this story, me and Harvey (Weinstein) had just signed our partnership.
"Everything started happening in a way where I was like, ‘Oh. He’s a prophet. His life was meant to make sure that other kids don’t have to go through this same thing’—because this is not some type of outlier. This happens a lot. I know many people."
Jay Z and wife Beyonce have been quietly supporting the Black Lives Matter movement for years, and have donated a reported $1.5 million (£1.1 million) to the cause. And the 99 Problems rapper reminded Americans that now, in the wake of the President Trump era, it was even more important for them to "come together."
"We have to tell these stories, and we have to organize in a way that we never have before, because that’s the only thing that effects change," he urged.
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