An experiment in creativity. On May 18th, more than 700 JusticeAid supporters came together to attend our first-online benefit concert in support of Election Protection/866-OUR-VOTE. As the YouTube chat box populated with audience members from across the nation and beyond—Brooklyn, Montana, NOLA, LA, even Melbourne, Australia!—spoken word artist Paine the Poet urged us to stand up and show up at the polls.
Host Rita Houston, program director of NYC’s WFUV (90.7), welcomed the audience and set the stage for a marvelous evening of music and unity.
“We’re here tonight to celebrate music, to celebrate perseverance in this era of COVID19,
and to celebrate democracy.”
Zack Feinberg and David Shaw of The Revivalists kicked off the show with “Soul Fight,” a song about the fight that’s within you. Zack and David lead this amazing seven-piece rock band based in New Orleans. They surely made some new “RevHead” fans this evening.
“Sometimes the problems of our world can feel so daunting. But there are heroes fighting for our civil rights, even when we don’t realize it,” stated Houston. The Story of Election Protection video documentary conveys the tireless efforts of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights in combating racial discrimination and the resulting inequality of opportunity–vital work that continues today through the on-the-ground work by staff and volunteers of Election Protection and its 200 coalition partners.
Actors, thought leaders, advocates, and legislators are sharing their stories with the #WHYIVOTE campaign. We welcome testimony from all of you.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re not political. Just find a candidate who WANTS you to vote.”
“I vote because I can…I vote because I like to complain. And if I don’t vote, I can’t complain!”
“Yo voto por mi mama, por los sacrificios que ella hizo para garantizar a mi y mi hermano un futuro mejor.”
“Mis padres son inmigrantes y por mucho tiempo no pudieron votar. Yo voto por ellos.”
Singer-songwriter-pianist Kandace Springs streamed in from Nashville with a gorgeous rendition of “I Put a Spell on You” in tribute to Nina Simone. This was Kandance’s third performance for JusticeAid. Says Kandace, “I would like to be known as one of the younger people that are keeping jazz and soul alive and vibrant.”
“I just want to thank JusticeAid…for working so hard to fight voter suppression and to support voter registration. Everyone out there, give what you can. Peace and love.”
New Orleans-based singer-songwriter Leyla McCalla is a bi-lingual multi-instrumentalist cellist and singer with a distinctive and beautiful sound. Seated here in her living room, she performed “Search,” a song inspired by poet Langston Hughes.
“In these times, the words of Langston Hughes can really get us through the day.”
David Hidalgo, the vocal and lead guitarist of the legendary East LA band Los Lobos, sang “The Valley” on his acoustic guitar. This is David’s second appearance with JusticeAid, and we appreciate his support of our mission.
“Voting is every American’s right, and we have to fight for it, to ensure that every voice is heard.”
JusticeAid board member Kim Coaxum introduced a short film on The Story of JusticeAid, with highlights from the tipping-point organizations we support and the benefit concerts organized on their behalf. Among our proud achievements: JusticeAid has distributed more than $1 million to civil rights groups since its founding in 2013. Read about our beneficiaries.
Grammy Award-winning artist and friend Paula Cole returned for her third JusticeAid performance singing “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free” on her piano.
“This is one of my favorite songs!! It stands for freedom. Amen.”
Thanks to supporters like you, JusticeAid exceeded its goal of raising $200,000 in support of Election Protection/866-OUR-VOTE. Our heartfelt thanks to @866ourvote, @LawyersComm, @BrennanCenter, @RiversideNYC, @civic_life, Class ACT HR’73. @RitaHoustonWFUV, @paulacolemusic, @LosLobosBand, @LeylaMcCalla, @KandaceSprings, @therevivalists, and @painethepoet for lending their to Voices to Protect the Vote.