January 2023

J usticeAid believes in justice and the power of art to bring us together in the fight for a more equitable nation and world. This year, in parallel with our fundraising for Black Voters Matter, each month we will highlight Black artists in order to uplift those whose voices have been muted, and whose visions can help us all see ourselves as we really are, and as we could be.

We hope you’ll join us in supporting Black Voters Matter and celebrating the talents of Black painters, musical artists, photographers, poets, and others whose work bears witness to the pain of the struggle for justice while conjuring beauty and dignity.


If We Must Die, a poem by Claude McKay

Jamaican-American writer Claude McKay (1890-1948) was a key figure in the Harlem Renaissance. He wrote this poem in response to mob attacks by white Americans upon African-American communities during the Red Summer, an outbreak of racial violence in 1919 that affected at least 26 cities across the U.S. His words resonate a century later as violence targeting Blacks continues unabated.

If we must die, let it not be like hogs
Hunted and penned in an inglorious spot,
While round us bark the mad and hungry dogs,
Making their mock at our accursèd lot.
If we must die, O let us nobly die,
So that our precious blood may not be shed
In vain; then even the monsters we defy
Shall be constrained to honor us though dead!
O kinsmen! we must meet the common foe!
Though far outnumbered let us show us brave,
And for their thousand blows deal one death-blow!
What though before us lies the open grave?
Like men we’ll face the murderous, cowardly pack,
Pressed to the wall, dying, but fighting back!
The Safety Patrol, based on a historical photo by Charles ‘Teenie” Harris

Bisa Butler is an African American fiber artist credited for transforming the medium of quilting from craft to fine art. Her larger-than-life-sized quilted portraits celebrate Black life with personal and historic images as their basis.

In The Safety Patrol (2018), Butler considers the potential of seven children as future caretakers of the world, using lively patterned fabrics like Ghanian kente cloth that reference her own ancestry and connect the subjects of her work to the larger African diasporic community.

About her focus on Black people and their narratives, she says:

“I never want my artwork to show my people in a bad light. We are people who’ve come a long way. We do struggle still. There’s still a lot of social ills that are affecting my people, so I want to address that, but I also don’t want this paternalistic view, like ‘oh poor them.’ I’m not interested in that. I’m more interested in seeing ‘look what we can do.’”


In this 2016 documentary and social critique film essay, Raoul Peck envisions James Baldwin’s unfinished manuscript, “Remember This House”— a radical narration about race in America told through the lives and assassinations of three of his friends: Martin Luther King Jr., Medgar Evers, and Malcolm X, using only the writer’s original words. Baldwin asserts throughout the film that the fate of the United States and that of Black Americans are inextricably tied together such that the truth and reckoning for one become the same for the other.

2023 | Directed by Raoul Peck | Narrated by Samuel L. Jackson | With archive footage of James Baldwin, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Medgar Evers, and Robert F. Kennedy 


All In: The Fight for Democracy, a 2020 documentary that explores the historical and recent suppression of Black voters’ rights in Georgia, motivated Grammy-winning Janelle Monáe to write and perform the film’s soundtrack, “Turntables.” In this Variety interview, Monáe reflects on an America that is mid-turn between “a lie and a revolution” that is still unfolding before our eyes.

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JusticeAid leverages the community-building power of art and music to transform awareness into action in the fight against injustice. Each year we identify and raise funds for justice causes by hosting music, arts, and educational events. Since 2013 JusticeAid has granted more than $2 million dollars to nonprofits working to ensure access to justice for the disenfranchised and marginalized. Our grantee partners are fighting racist voter suppression and racist policing, working to end mass incarceration and inhumane immigration practices, ensuring access to legal services, and addressing the criminalization and hatred of others.