Alicia Keys will be performing at the NFL’s Kickoff event for its 2020 season Thursday (Sept. 10).
billboard– Alicia Keys will be performing at the NFL’s Kickoff event for its 2020 season Thursday (Sept. 10), a moment that she’s tying in with a bigger announcement: The league will be contributing to a new $1 billion endowment fund aimed at supporting Black owned business and communities.
The new fund for black owned business will come as several crises unfold around the world, including the global coronavirus pandemic and the protests against systemic racism and injustice that have erupted following the police killings of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and others in the U.S. in recent months.
Alicia Keys also penned a piece explaining her decision to perform at the NFL’s event and some of the goals of the fund (see below), and expanded on why she conceived of the fund in an interview with Billboard.
“We are already seeing the blatant injustices that are going on around us,” Alicia Keys says. “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 owned business, Black investors, institutions, entrepreneurs, schools and banks in a way to create sustainable solutions.”
Alicia Keys tells Billboard that the idea for the fund came about as a way to help transform the protests and words of solidarity that have poured out in the past months into tangible action and support for the black owned business and black community, and for it to go beyond just a one-time charitable donation to continue to grow and develop over the years with the goal extending beyond the initial $1 billion endowment. Additional partners and contributors beyond the NFL haven’t been disclosed, though the aim is to create a multi-sector contributor field for the fund.
“The initial goal of $1 billion is to ensure a substantial commitment,” Alicia Keys says. “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.”
For the NFL, participating in the fund is the latest step it has taken in its quest to support racial justice initiatives. The league has come under increasing scrutiny in recent years following its well-publicized issue with quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who began taking a knee during the national anthem to protest racial injustice in the U.S. in 2016 and subsequently filed a grievance against the league, since settled, accusing owners of colluding to keep him out of the NFL.
Those tensions have begun to ease of late and the NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell began to take a more committed stand against racial and social injustice last August, when it announced a deal with Jay Z’s Roc Nation — which manages Alicia Keys — to partner on social justice initiatives through the League’s Inspire Change nonprofit, among other initiatives. Following the killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers in late May, Goodell and the NFL doubled down on their commitment to address systemic issues in American society, with some on- and off-field changes that will go into effect this year, with phrases like “End Racism” and “It Takes All Of Us” painted in end zones, for example.
“There is an urgent conversation that is happening across businesses about the importance of investing in Black America. I’m personally committed to holding corporations and institutions accountable, and in my conversations with the NFL, they reaffirmed their commitment to racial equity,” Alicia Keys adds. “The prospect of true generational wealth for the Black community is long overdue and I’m grateful to express my purpose as an artist to advance that cause. I’ve been deeply inspired by the courage of Colin Kaepernick and the determination I have to see this through is meant to honor his commitment to social justice.”