The NFL kicked off their 2020 football season with social distancing protocols set in place due to continued risk caused by the coronavirus pandemic. As the league opened the season on Thursday, Sept. 10 with the Chiefs-Texans game, it partnered up with Grammy-winning artist Alicia Keys to sing at the game, and the singer also announced a bold initiative around the same time.
The 39-year-old says her collaboration with the NFL doesn’t just stop at game performances. The “So Done” songstress recently announced she is starting a $1 billion endowment fund aimed at supporting Black businesses and communities and has gotten the league to support the endeavor.
During an interview with Billboard, Keys dove into detail surrounding the initiative and what inspired her to get involved. “We are already seeing the blatant injustices that are going on around us,” Keys explained. “As an artist, I’m always thinking about how can I use my platform to further racial equity. This fund is one of the answers, and our goal is to empower Black America through investing in Black businesses, Black investors, institutions, entrepreneurs, schools, and banks in a way to create sustainable solutions.”
In a letter, Keys explained that the purpose of the fund was to take the protests and words of solidarity that have taken place over the past months and transform them into tangible actions and support for the Black community.
The actress then went on to mention that “the initial goal of $1 billion is to ensure a substantial commitment.” She continued, “Even with that, it does not come close to closing the economic gap. The next steps are to reach out to different industries to invite them to invest in racial justice and create a multi-billion-dollar endowment across business sectors.” No concrete details about this project have been disclosed as of this writing.
“The Voice” host’s post and NFL game appearance comes as the league has been taking more steps to support racial justice causes. In the past, the NFL has received backlash for its handling of protests from athletes as they attempted to raise awareness for the racial injustices faced by Black and brown people in America. The league’s most notable issue was with former quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
As you may remember, in 2016, the athlete-turned-activist kneeled during pregame performances of the national anthem and was condemned for his actions. He subsequently filed a grievance against the league, claiming that they colluding against him. Both parties settled their case in February 2019.
A report from the Wall Street Journal revealed the details surrounding the settlement, stating that both Kaepernick and his former 49ers teammate Eric Reid — who also took a knee during the anthem — settled for less than $10 million dollars. There was no word on how the money was split or how much they had to pay in lawyer fees. While the settlement was initially looked at as a victory, once the amount was revealed, the consensus proved otherwise.
Alicia Keys is just the latest entertainer to announce a collaboration with the league. In August 2019, Jay-Z announced an NFL deal with his Roc Nation company — which also manages Keys — to partner on social justice initiatives through the League’s Inspire Change nonprofit, among other initiatives.