Last night's Sundance Film Festival's festivities were highlighted by latest work from Jay Z. The first two episodes of "TIME: The Kalief Browder Story," a Spike TV docu-series was screened. Executive Produced by Hov, Harvey Weinstein and a host of others, "Time" is captivating, yet mortifying and it will downright scare and anger you at how unjust Browder was treated.
Kalief Browder's well documented story is one of tragedy that happens all too often to kids in the inner community.
Kalief committed suicide almost two years ago at the age of just 22. When he was 16, he was accused of stealing a backpack, arrested, and sent to Rikers Island where he was beaten by prisoners and correction officers. He spent over 800 days in solitary confinement in Rikers and was never convicted of a crime. He and his family's lives were destroyed by this.
Afterwards, the audience cheered for the program and Jay Z talked about what it will take to not just change an obviously broken judicial system, but the country.
"I think more than ever, the people have to come together," Hov, sitting next to Harvey Weinstein, said during a Q&A with the filmmakers in front of the spectators. "We have to tell these stories. We have to organize in a way we've never have before. That's the only thing that affects change. I hate to sound like such a cynic. Everything is based wealth and who you can put in office...
"We have to organize" he added. "I've been in these meetings. I've spoken to people. I've done, like you said, many things behind the scenes. But I think the most important, we are the power, the people. I'm sure a lot of you guys participated in that display of women power the other day that was so amazing. No matter who's in office, we are the people. That's the power."
Doug E. Fresh, a first time Sundance attendee, was in the audience and came to the front and spoke of his experience at the "TIME" screening and going through similar hardships in life. He thanked Jay Z for bringing the struggle to the forefront.
"I watched him evolve," Doug said of Jay.
"I wanted to acknowledge you," he added, addressing Jay. "This is the right way to use power. I've seen you coming up. I watched you go through it, work your way through it and you know, we come from the same hood. A lot of us didn't make it through. To see you navigate through this and get to this point to make something like this, is very powerful."
Doug went on all to call Jay a "prophet."
"You're taking what you've been through and showing the world what we've been going through ever since we were kids," Doug testified. "A lot of y'all here might be shocked at what you see on this screen, but we been going through this every single day. I still live in Harlem, what you see on this screen is what's been going on since me and [Jay] were kids. So, whatever you can do to get this word out is important. I have six sons that go through this all the time. My son was playing in the street and a cop grabbed him because he was playing with his friends. The cops grabbed him and took him up to Spofford. I had to go and get a lawyer and take care of the situation and get him out. But most people do not have the money to get a lawyer… This is the mouse trap they have going. This has been going on for so long. To see y'all come together and put this kind of message out there, this is why hip-hop was created. This is the real reason behind it. Take your power and show the world what is really going on."
The six part "TIME: The Kalief Browder Story," airs on Spike in March.