Vic Mensa Hits D.C. to Protest Gun Violence As He Readies Inaugural Chicago Event

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A yr after Vic Mensa began his SaveMoneySaveLife Foundation to assist Chicago residents in underserved areas prepare to grow to be first responders in treating victims of gun violence, amongst different applications, the muse is launching an awards present -- and increasing its efforts past Mensa’s hometown.   

Slated for April 12 in Chicago, the as-yet-unnamed occasion shouldn't be your common trophy fest. Instead, it's going to acknowledge international music artists who’ve excelled in 5 areas: anti-gun violence, sustainable change, environmental works, love and compassion, and youth and mentorship. The awards may also embody artist performances, that are within the works and below wraps till the official announcement on March 16—SaveMoneySaveLife’s one-year anniversary.

“We’re positioning it just like the Grammy Awards, however as a substitute of finest album, we’re going to have awards for greatest contribution [to end] gun violence, and different particular awards,” mentioned Laundi Keepseagle, director of the muse, who hinted to Billboard one of many performances can be by a disbanded R&B/soul act whose members are coming collectively for the occasion.

Mensa, to whom mingling music and messaging in opposition to societal injustice is second nature, just lately has collaborated with Ty Dolla $ign, Travis Barker and Charlie Wilson. Monday evening (Feb. 11) in Washington, D.C., he was equally at dwelling performing and talking in regards to the Street Medics program amongst activists, politicians and different artists on the principal rally for the Toms Shoes End Gun Violence Together marketing campaign, which launched in November with a $5 million donation to a coalition of gun violence organizations.

“I’ve misplaced lots of people to violence and seen a whole lot of my comrades’ potential lower quick. And I really feel it’s my responsibility, my accountability to them to advocate and be current as an agent for change locally,” Mensa advised Billboard. “I’ve all the time felt like music is a car for me to specific the issues that matter to me, and humanity issues to me. Justice issues to me so these are the issues that all the time discover their manner into my music.”

The Toms marketing campaign for 3 months has traversed the nation and picked up greater than 750,000 postcards in assist of latest laws that requires common background checks earlier than the sale of firearms. The House of Representatives unveiled the invoice, H.R. eight, on January eight, eight years to the day a bullet struck former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) within the head and almost took her life.

Among others who joined firm founder Blake Mycoskie final evening on stage have been actor Taye Diggs; music artist MILCK; DC Mayor Muriel Bowser; Manuel and Patricia Oliver, Change the Ref founders and fogeys of Joaquin Oliver, who was killed at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School; Matt Dietsch, March For Our Lives chief strategist; Yolanda Renee King and Martin Luther King III, activists and granddaughter and son of Coretta Scott King and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.; and Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.), co-author of H.R. eight.

After moments of silence, of tears, of chants and guarantees to remain vigilant, Mycoskie advised the gang among the many greatest classes he’s realized on the street “is that each single voice actually does matter, that all of us have a accountability, no matter out platform is, to collectively demand change in our nation to make it safer. And we’re not going to cease.” First order or enterprise the subsequent day was heading to Congress to ship these postcards.

Diggs advised Billboard he was completely happy to make use of his platform to advance dialog, and motion, round gun-sense legal guidelines. “Every little bit helps, and that is one other step in the precise route,” he mentioned. “I've 9-year-old son and despite the fact that I've not been personally affected by this difficulty, it's near my coronary heart due to that looming risk.”

For Mensa, heading to Capitol Hill in numbers is a calculated energy play. “We need them to see we're highly effective and that they want us,” he advised Billboard. “I really feel our objective is much less to attraction to the humanity of Capitol Hill as a result of they function from a spot of energy, that’s what issues to politicians. And 700,000-plus folks, constituents of theirs, demanding motion is energy. So that’s why we’re right here—to symbolize that energy.”

SaveMoneySaveLife plans to increase the empowerment of Street Medics coaching—with the Bronx, NY, and a number of other Native American communities excessive on the checklist for 2019.

“Chicago is an epicenter of gun violence, so we’ve been coaching and equipping folks locally to be first support responders within the occasion, the very possible occasion, that they are going to witness these types of heinous violence,” Mensa mentioned. “There are lots of people doing that work already; there simply must be extra quantity and a broader body of affect and longer attain.”