Janelle Monáe is known for not only her music and perfect pompadour but also her activism.
Before she kicked off "The Eephus," an eight-city tour of free shows with Jidenna and other Wondaland artists, Monáe joined forces with Black Lives Matter activists in Philadelphia.
Peacefully marching with other protesters on Wednesday, the “Yoga” singer prompted the audience to recite the names of victims of police brutality.
“Won’t you say their names?" she told the crowd, according to Vibe. "Can we say their names right now? Can we speak their names, as long as we have breath in our bodies?”
At her show later that night, Monáe continued to “say their names” with a Black Lives Matter rendition of "Hell You Talmbout,” a bonus single from Monáe's “Electric Lady” album. The Wondaland crew replaced the lyrics in each verse with chants that ordered the crowd to say the names of Sandra Bland, John Crawford, Mike Brown and others.
Monáe explained the message behind this song in an Instagram post:
This song is a vessel. It carries the unbearable anguish of millions. We recorded it to channel the pain, fear, and trauma caused by the ongoing slaughter of our brothers and sisters. We recorded it to challenge the indifference, disregard, and negligence of all who remain quiet about this issue. Silence is our enemy. Sound is our weapon. They say a question lives forever until it gets the answer it deserves... Won't you say their names?
The morning after her second show and accompanying protest, Monáe performed the song on "Today." At the end of her performance, she said, "We want white America to know that we stand tall today. We want black America to know we stand tall today. We will not be silenced…” before NBC cut her comments short.
Monáe and friends have six more stops to make on The Eephus tour and these first two undoubtedly set the tone on what to expect from following shows.
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