Jay Z’s Roc Nation stepping up its Civil Rights role

News Headlines March 8, 2019

Jay Z’s Roc Nation has been writing the checks lately for some of the high profile legal cases for those suffering from civil rights abuses around the US. Roc Nation was helpful in securing the release of Atlanta based-rapper 21 Savage, arrested for his alleged immigration violations. Jay Z and Roc Nation  also became involved in a racial profiling case in Tennessee. The latest case to draw Roc Nation’s attention is in Florida, involving an 11 year old 6th grader, Jabari Talbot, who refused to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance.

Jay Z has long been involved in philanthropic causes; global water issues and Hurricane Kartrina victims among them. The recent involvement in Civil Rights causes by Jay Z feels similar to the role  Harry Belafonte took in aiding many of the Civil Rights initiatives in the late 1950s and 1960s. Belafonte used his wealth and standing in New York and the entertainment world to draw attention to the work of MLK and others, as well as providing funds for defense lawyers and paying bail at critical times in the struggle for civil rights.

An interesting back story is Belafonte’s criticism of Jay Z in a 2012 interview in which the singer charged that Jay Z and his wife Beyonce hadn’t done enough for social causes. Jay Z initially fought back against Belafonte’s charge, but in 2017 the singer changed his tune, saying where he said Belafonte had made an impact on him.