(ThyBlackMan.com) I’ve always respected Jamie Foxx. Not only is he extremely talented in a multitude of arenas, he also understands the depth of personal power that celebrities have at their fingertips. From what I’ve heard both in public and behind the scenes, I can confirm that Jamie has left me impressed.
This week, Jamie Foxx took the opportunity to speak to the importance of celebrities stepping up to the plate and doing something other than filling their bank accounts. Speaking at the 50th anniversary March on Washington, Foxx said, “What we need to do now, the young folks pick it up now so that when we’re 87 years old talking to the other young folks we can say it was me, Will Smith, Jay Z, Kanye West, Alicia Keys, Kerry Washington … the list goes on. Don’t make me start preaching up here,” he said.
“Everybody my age and all of the entertainers, it’s time for us to stand up now and renew this dream.”
I’m sure I’m not the only one who noticed that Jay Z was mentioned in Foxx’s remarks. We also know about the unfortunate dual that took place between Jay-Z and 86-year old Harry Belafonte, who condemned Rapper Jay Z for not doing more for his community. So, by giving “props” to Belafonte, Jamie Foxx is indirectly calling out Jay-Z and asking him to do more for his generation and the next.
Jamie Foxx was one of the first celebrities to sign the open letter to President Obama written by myself and Russell Simmons a few months ago. It was after building a coalition of celebrities, scholars, activists and public figures that we were able to convince the White House to keep their commitment to ending the War on Drugs. This false, expensive, failed and destructive war has served to destroy both economic and family stability in the black community over the last 40 years.
But this is just the beginning. Dr. King taught us that power without courage is like having a loaded gun with no trigger. Being free is not simply a matter of fighting for freedom and winning. It’s also a matter of learning not to think like a slave. When a man has half a billion dollars in the bank and is afraid of saying or doing anything controversial, the truth is that his spirit remains in prison.
So, I had to take a moment to applaud Jamie Foxx, Chris Rock, John Legend and some of the other celebrities who are realizing that their power wasn’t given to them so they can simply buy fancy cars and big houses. Your power is a gift from God meant to be shared with those you care about. By giving yourself to lift others, you are effectively elevating your own soul.
No one taught us this lesson better than “the great one,” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. As a celebrity himself, he could have easily built himself a mansion, got a few women on the side, and spent all his time at Martha’s Vineyard. Instead, he upset powerful friends by speaking the truth about poverty, lost White House access by opposing the Vietnam War, and died on a balcony because he never left black people behind.
One of Rapper Jay-Z’s album was called “Watch the Throne,” but I’d like to release an album for Jay Z called “Watch the King.” By studying the lives of great men like Dr. King and Harry Belafonte, we can truly live the dream we deserve.
Staff Writer; Dr. Boyce Watkins