This weekend has been nothing short of inspiring, entertaining, and not to mention instructive. The third and final day of the 2020 REVOLT Summit AT&T concluded with several robust discussions on what we, as a community, need to know and do to secure a better and brighter tomorrow not only for ourselves but for the future generations.
Journalist Van Lathan led two panel discussions focusing on criminal justice reform and the importance of voting not only on a federal but also on a local level. Rapper Guapdad 4000 and Reason gave viewers tools they needed to get politically prepared for the upcoming elections, including when, where, and even some key issues that would be on ballots across the nation. Mario and G Herbo spoke candidly about mental health and dismantled the stigma surrounding getting help from a licensed professional.
We hope you enjoyed everything. Now check out some of the highlights from the final day of the 2020 REVOLT Summit AT&T below. See you next year!
1. REFORM featuring Corey Jacobs, Brittany Barnett, Dascha Polanco, and Trae The Truth
The final day of what was already been an impactful summit started strong with a conversation on criminal justice reform, and what better way to bring it to you than from the mouths of those who dealt with it firsthand. The Buried Alive Project co-founders Brittany K. Barnett and Corey Jacobs joined actress Dascha Polanco and rapper Trae The Truth for an informative panel discussion on politics, the prison system, and what we can do as a community to enact actual change. Van moderated the topics discussed.
With the 2020 presidential election just a hand full of days away, the next candidate to be elected as the president of the United States could determine whether or not we see a real change in our justice system. Attorney and criminal justice reform advocate Brittany spoke on who she thought had a better plan for the American people seeking the transformation we so desperately need. “I am putting my money on Biden because he has a Black woman that he brought on the ballot with him. That’s my personal opinion,” the lawyer expressed. She continued, “As an attorney doing this work though Van, Corey and I have founded the Buried Alive Project together. As Trae said, we link up all the time. We honestly don’t have the privilege to be partisan in the situation. We have clients that are set to die in prison. I represented Alice Johnson, who did receive clemency from Trump. And I, as an attorney and a zealous advocate for my client, the only thing that I saw was that a 64-year-old woman was set to die in prison, and that’s the only thing that mattered to me.” Brittany double-downed on her stance against being partisan but explained that she had high hopes in a Biden and Kamala Harris ticket.
Meanwhile, Dascha, who starred in the award-winning series “Orange Is the New Black,” which touched heavily on the subject of the justice system, explained how she educated and prepared herself to talk about matters regarding voting, reform, and more. The actress also gave tips on what others could do to stay on top of the issues affecting them the most. “Look, we continue to learn, and we continue to educate ourselves. This is my second year voting. I’m an immigrant, so there’s a lot of things that I have to learn to know what goes down, and it’s pretty much from personal experience. But right now, for you to have an excuse that you don’t know, it’s like, there’s Google,” the star said. She added, “The internet. There’s so much access to information. There’s so many organizations that you could look up like The Innocence Project. There’s documentaries that have so many stories. Even the [show] ‘When They See Us.’”
Dascha noted how she went about her research for her role in the Ava Duvernay directed film. She even looked at old news clippings on the Exonerated 5, then called the Central Park 5. “It’s like go down a rabbit hole of information that is so necessary for you to make the next decision,” Dascha expressed. Trae The Truth later added that when he found out many of his close friends, who were previously incarcerated, were unaware that they could still vote in the elections, the rapper used his platform to spread awareness, which resulted in a vast voting turnout.
2. VOTE OR DIE featuring Killer Mike, Jeff Johnson, and DeRay Mckesson
Over the years, rapper Killer Mike has become just as notable for his political activism as he is for his bars. The Greenwood bank co-founder joined civil rights activist and author DeRay Mckesson, and communications specialist and journalist Jeff Johnson in a conversation on the importance of voting in this year’s election like your life depends on it — because it does, more than ever. Host Van also led this inspiring conversation.
When discussing the significance of voting engagement at the polls, specifically the 2020 election, Jeff laid out what was at stake. “We can go further into Hell than we already are, but many of us have the ability to work well in warmer weather. So, I want to make sure I’m clear about something here… I’ve seen voting work in certain ways,” Jeff said. He continued, “I don’t know if there’s anything that’s not at stake… Whether the Affordable Care Act remains in place or whether it’s repelled as a result of Donald Trump’s new justice or if we’re talking about national security or if we’re talking about immigration. If it’s the vast number of judges that will be placed by whoever is the next president and not just in the supreme court, but more importantly, in courts all around the country. All those things are at stake.”
The news contributor also noted that “what’s also as stake is the sheriff that’s going to get elected in a county in Florida and North Carolina.” Jeff went on to note that while, indeed, the election is probably the most important one in the nation’s history, other “initiatives are on the ballot that most of us don’t even know how to read right.” He continued, “The money that [is] spent on ads per president and vice president become distractions to a broader ballot that have implications that affect our lives in a real way. So, I don’t want us to miss the real sh-t that can happen if we choose the wrong person for president. I just don’t want to focus so much on that, that we mess up the real stuff that’s gon’ happen by not paying attention to the down-ballot selections.”
Mike directed some words towards folks still struggling with doubts on whether they wanted to exercise their civic duties. “What I actually said in Atlanta was ‘You got a prosecutor’s race this year. You got 2 to 3 judges being […] this year, and you got a sheriff.’ So, if your a— know like I know, you better get in on the prosecutor’s race.”
He added, “So, when I talk to the homie in front of the flame, I let them know, ‘Aye fool, somebody running, who might let a n-gga off a case, you might wanna get you’re a— to the polls in the morning after we leave this mother—ka.’” The artist noted, “That’s how I got them to the polls. When I start saying, ‘Do you know this judge? Has yo partner been sentenced by them?’ Because you have to meet people where they’re at. People are people. People understand bullsh-t charges. And if that’s how I got to holla at the brothers like, ‘You get to decided who f—king assigns your first-time bullsh-t weed offense, you will want somebody in there who’s going not probate you for five to eight to ten years.’”
Later in the segment, DeRay and Jeff get into a slight deliberation on the priority of political party when casting your voting. While DeRay feels that there is clear evidence on who’s the right choice, Jeff feels your grievances and expectations should drive the boat.
3. Social Justice: The Intersection of Music and Sports featuring Jeezy, Malcolm Jenkins, and Donovan Mitchell
Now, more than ever, we are seeing athletes and entertainers such as LeBron James, Colin Kaepernick, and Rihanna take centerstage in the fight against injustice and social inequality.
Jeezy, and superstar athletes Malcolm and Donovan examined social justice related to the music and sports industries in a panel discussion moderated by sports broadcast journalist Cari Champion.
The “I Luv It” rapper expressed that growing up in the inner cities of his hometown of Atlanta, there weren’t too many figures to look up to aside from “the local hustlers, the guys that just did a little better than everybody else that was in the neighborhood.” However, he said he could look past that because of people like Michael Jordan, 2Pac, and Snoop Dogg. “We always just looked up to how they were successful. They knew the way, and they made it out of the hood, and they understood what it was to be successful ‘cause we hadn’t seen that type of success. We listened to what they said. We listen to their words. We wore the shoes. We wore the jerseys. We wore the hats. We wore the starter jackets, and that was the culture to us,” Jeezy added.
“So, I think the intersection crosses when you are still that for a younger generation,” he further reflected on the impact he’s had on his fans and even examples of athletes who, because of their talents and actions off the basketball court or football field, have inspired a generation of young adults to do the right thing essentially. “I wouldn’t call it role models. I would call it a form of leadership that fell on your lap,” Jeezy explained. “The intersection happens once you become successful. You become a leader even if you don’t want to be. So, if you do wrong, people are going to take heed to that.”
Malcolm and Donavon pressed on the significance of providing resources and teaching the younger generation specific skills to set them up for a brighter future. Donavon recalled how, when he was younger going to private school every summer, he’d play basketball for the Amateur Athletic Union while his peers would take internships at various financial firms “in the sixth, seventh, and eighth grade because that’s where their parents worked.” “So I saw it at an early age, I didn’t understand it, but I saw it. I’m older, and I look back at it like, ‘Man, that’s the advantage.’ So, I try to tell our people man like, look, just learn, find ways to learn something small early on,” Donavon stressed.
He added: “And when you get to have kids, teach your kids early. That way, they’ll at least have some type of knowledge because that’s the gap that we have in America because now the same kid that I went to private school with versus the kid that went to a public school has no idea what Morgan Stanley is by the time they’re both 22. One has a $100,000 job while the other still doesn’t know what to do in life.”
4. Political Prep: 101 featuring Guapdad 4000 and Reason
Rappers Guapdad 4000 and Reason get viewers politically prepped in a workshop designed to give you all the information and tools you need to know about why, how, and where to vote and much more in a discussion led by Tezlyn Figaro.
Guapdad 4000 said: “Immediately I feel that there’s not enough information on where to vote because often, and this has kind of been the consensus throughout my whole life, from childhood to currently, I never know where to go and vote, and I never know when it’s time to vote… As a person involved in society but [not] necessarily politics, I see somebody on Twitter or walking past me with the voting sticker, and I’ll be like ‘Oh, it’s time to vote.’” The California native suggested that there be some sort of policy set in place that makes it mandatory for mass media such as radio stations to alert its audiences of approaching voting deadlines continuously.
Reason added to that notion stating that he believes there should be more of an emphasis on what is actually at stake and why voting is beneficial when educating the youth on their voter’s rights. “I feel like the lack of voting is in younger people, and I feel like older people are more aware, and do vote, and they know how voting on a local and national level affects them, and I don’t feel like younger people know, and I feel like that’s why the urgency is lacking.” He continued, “I feel like if we start to increase the knowledge and the spread of knowledge, especially on the platforms and to the demographics where these younger people can receive it, then they will start to understand why it’s important.” The rapper then noted one of Biden and Harris’ proposals to give funding to historically black colleges and universities, a move that could potentially affect the lives of millions of students looking to attend college soon.
Tezlyn also brought attention to the Election Assistance Commission, an independent agency of the United States government created by the Help America Vote Act of 2002. The Commission serves as a national clearinghouse and resource of information regarding election administration.
5. Mind Games featuring Mario and G Herbo
To say that 2020 has been a stressful year is an understatement. The COVID-19 pandemic has flipped life as we know it on its side. At the same time, the future of this country hangs in the balance. So, to wrap up this year’s REVOLT Summit x AT&T, singer-songwriter Mario, rapper G Herbo, and Dr. Jess redirect viewers’ focus to mental health, and the importance of keeping a clear and healthy mindset in a workshop titled Mind Games.
G Herbo shared some of his experiences growing up in a crime and poverty-stricken neighborhood of Chicago. “I experienced a lot of trauma at an early age,” the rapper revealed. “I saw my first murder at 9 years old. I was shot at 16. Like a lot of my friends, I started to experience death at such a young age.” Herbo admitted that at one point, “It became normal to me… You become numb to something because, you know, we’re creatures of habit.” The rapper explained that he wasn’t fully aware of those events’ effects on his mental health until he got older and started to fear for his life.
“Mental health and just mental health awareness is important to me because I’m a product of it,” he explained. “And I wanna use my voice and my platform to share my story to help a lot of people whose circumstances may have been even more extreme than mine were.”
The group also discussed how to find licensed professionals out there who are knowledgeable in specific trauma areas just with a simple click on the internet. Mario also revealed to viewers that this year, he would be starting therapy for the first time as the singer reflected on his upbringing and how he had to handle stardom, a parent battle drug addiction, and how those things affected his mental state.
Dr. Jess stressed that while the journey to finding the perfect therapist isn’t always easy, the process of divulging your trauma to a stranger may be awkward. However, she implored viewers to “start with an internet search type in what you are looking for, and you might get a hit.” She added, “You gotta be comfortable with the uncomfortable.”