A 12 months after Vic Mensa began his SaveMoneySaveLife Foundation to assist Chicago residents in underserved areas practice to change into first responders in treating victims of gun violence, amongst different packages, the muse is launching an awards present -- and increasing its efforts past Mensa’s hometown.   

Slated for April 12 in Chicago, the as-yet-unnamed occasion is just not your common trophy fest. Instead, it should acknowledge international music artists who’ve excelled in 5 areas: anti-gun violence, sustainable change, environmental works, love and compassion, and youth and mentorship. The awards may even embrace artist performances, that are within the works and beneath wraps till the official announcement on March 16—SaveMoneySaveLife’s one-year anniversary.

“We’re positioning it just like the Grammy Awards, however as a substitute of greatest album, we’re going to have awards for greatest contribution [to end] gun violence, and different particular awards,” stated Laundi Keepseagle, director of the muse, who hinted to Billboard one of many performances might be by a disbanded R&B/soul act whose members are coming collectively for the occasion.

Mensa, to whom mingling music and messaging towards societal injustice is second nature, just lately has collaborated with Ty Dolla $ign, Travis Barker and Charlie Wilson. Monday night time (Feb. 11) in Washington, D.C., he was equally at residence performing and talking in regards to the Street Medics program amongst activists, politicians and different artists on the principal rally for the Toms Shoes End Gun Violence Together marketing campaign, which launched in November with a $5 million donation to a coalition of gun violence organizations.

“I’ve misplaced lots of people to violence and seen loads of my comrades’ potential reduce quick. And I really feel it’s my obligation, my duty to them to advocate and be current as an agent for change locally,” Mensa informed Billboard. “I’ve all the time felt like music is a car for me to specific the issues that matter to me, and humanity issues to me. Justice issues to me so these are the issues that all the time discover their manner into my music.”

The Toms marketing campaign for 3 months has traversed the nation and picked up greater than 750,000 postcards in help of recent laws that requires common background checks earlier than the sale of firearms. The House of Representatives unveiled the invoice, H.R. eight, on January eight, eight years to the day a bullet struck former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) within the head and almost took her life.

Among others who joined firm founder Blake Mycoskie final night time on stage have been actor Taye Diggs; music artist MILCK; DC Mayor Muriel Bowser; Manuel and Patricia Oliver, Change the Ref founders and oldsters of Joaquin Oliver, who was killed at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School; Matt Dietsch, March For Our Lives chief strategist; Yolanda Renee King and Martin Luther King III, activists and granddaughter and son of Coretta Scott King and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.; and Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.), co-author of H.R. eight.

After moments of silence, of tears, of chants and guarantees to remain vigilant, Mycoskie informed the group among the many greatest classes he’s discovered on the street “is that each single voice actually does matter, that all of us have a duty, no matter out platform is, to collectively demand change in our nation to make it safer. And we’re not going to cease.” First order or enterprise the following day was heading to Congress to ship these postcards.

Diggs informed Billboard he was glad to make use of his platform to advance dialog, and motion, round gun-sense legal guidelines. “Every little bit helps, and that is one other step in the fitting route,” he stated. “I've 9-year-old son and though I've not been personally affected by this problem, it's near my coronary heart due to that looming chance.”

For Mensa, heading to Capitol Hill in numbers is a calculated energy play. “We need them to see we're highly effective and that they want us,” he informed Billboard. “I really feel our goal is much less to enchantment to the humanity of Capitol Hill as a result of they function from a spot of energy, that’s what issues to politicians. And 700,000-plus folks, constituents of theirs, demanding motion is energy. So that’s why we’re right here—to characterize that energy.”

SaveMoneySaveLife plans to increase the empowerment of Street Medics coaching—with the Bronx, NY, and a number of other Native American communities excessive on the record for 2019.

“Chicago is an epicenter of gun violence, so we’ve been coaching and equipping folks locally to be first support responders within the occasion, the very possible occasion, that they'll witness these types of heinous violence,” Mensa stated. “There are lots of people doing that work already; there simply must be extra quantity and a broader body of affect and longer attain.”

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