Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter may be a rapper, businessman, entrepreneur, and producer, but first and foremost he’s a Black man, which is exactly what he told Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz when he called him personally to discuss his feelings about the death of George Floyd.
In light of recent protests and civil unrest over the Minneapolis man’s death at the hands of state police, the Roc Nation founder used his power to reach out to the governor directly. He discussed his thoughts on the ongoing demonstrations and what should be considered before taking the next course of action. “I received a call last night — to understand how big this was — from Jay-Z. Not international performer but dad stressing to me that justice needs to be served,” he said.
Gov. Walz went on to give additional details about what he and Jay-Z discussed, telling reporters that the 50-year-old rapper spoke with him from a place of “compassion.”
“It was a dad — and I think quite honestly, a black man whose visceral pain of this that he knew. His words summarized that justice needs to be served here,” said the governor. “He said he feels the compassion and the humanity of these folks who are speaking. He knows the world is watching, and how Minnesota handles this is going to have an impact across the country. It’s a positive sign that someone of a stature, that has a presence like that, is focused in the moment of what Minnesotans are focused on.”
Following the conversation, Jay Z released a statement on the Roc Nation and REFORM Alliance social media accounts. He thanked the governor for turning the case over to Attorney General Keith Ellison and reminded everyone that this is only the beginning.
“After our very earnest conversation, thank you to Governor Walz for doing what’s right and calling in Attorney General Keith Ellison to take over the George Floyd case,” reads the statement. “Earlier today, Governor Walz mentioned having a human conversation with me — a dad and a Black man in pain.
He continued, “Yes, I am human, a father, and a Black man in pain and I am not the only one. Now I, along with an entire country in pain, call upon AG Ellison to do the right thing and prosecute all those responsible for the murder of George Floyd to the fullest extent of the law. This is just a first step. I am more determined to fight for justice than any fight my would-be oppressors may have. I prevail on every politician, prosecutor and officer in the country to have the courage to do what is right. Have the courage to look at us as humans, dads, brothers, sisters and mothers in pain and look at yourselves.”
Jay-Z is no stranger to speaking out on social issues. He founded the REFORM Alliance to advocate for the reform of the prison system and has donated money to help bail protesters out of jail. In addition, he produced a documentary about the life and tragic death of Kalief Browder, a teenager who spent three years behind bars, including in solitary confinement, at Rikers Island for allegedly stealing a backpack.