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This Black History Month, we’re taking a look at a few celebrities who’ve spoken out about criminal justice reform. Scroll down for a list with inspiring quotes.

Celebrities Who Speak Out On Criminal Justice Reform  was originally published on

1. Alicia Keys

Alicia Keys Source:R1 Digital

Alicia Keys once lent her voice in a plea to Congress to pass the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act that would reduce unfair, mandatory minimum sentences. It was in 2015 after she’d just met with families of teens incarcerated in Baltimore a few months following the Freddie Gray riots. In addition, she launched the We Are Here movement that pushed for social justice and supported the Cut50 organization that had been aiming to reduce the prison population by 50 percent in a decade. Source:

2. Ava DuVernay

Ava DuVernay Source:R1 Digital

In true “reach people where they are” form, Ava DuVernay is known for bringing life to voices that have been silenced. We’ve seen her do it for Ralph Angel and Nova on her ’Queen Sugar’ series on OWN, and the voices got even realer on her Netflix films, ‘13th’ that compared mass incarceration to slavery and ‘When They See Us’ which told the story of the Central Park 5 teens who were falsely accused of attacking a woman in New York City. She proudly uses her passion to get people thinking about issues that affect so many people daily. Source:

3. Jay Z

Jay Z Source:R1 Digital

Jay Z knows the streets very well; it’s written all over in his early music. And we all love the way he plugs real life into his art. When his life changed and got a seat at the head of major tables, so did the content of his art. In addition to openly supporting organizations dedicated to criminal justice reform, Hov has been using another form of art to shed light on the justice system with documentaries including the story of Kalief Browder, Trayvon Martin and Meek Mill. Source:

4. criminal justice reform bhm 2020

criminal justice reform bhm 2020 Source:R1 Digital

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5. Meek Mill

Meek Mill Source:R1 Digital

Back in January 2007, Meek Mill was arrested after a violent drug bust where police found about $30,000 that belonged to his cousin who sold weed. Meek was a bystander who was accused of pointing a gun at a cop in an unrelated incident. He was later found guilty of seven of 19 charges, four of which concerned the gun. He was sentenced two years in county prison and eight years probation. Over the course of the past 10 years, Meek faced a ton of appeals and petty parole violations before finally cutting ties with a judge who was being investigated for showing bias against the rapper. In July 2019, a Pennsylvania appeals court ruled that Meek would be granted a new trial and new judge, overturning his decade-old conviction. He’s now using his platform to bring awareness to an unjust system with the REFORM Alliance organization. He partnered with Jay Z to help reduce the number of people serving unjust parole and probation sentences. Source:

6. Nipsey Hussle

Nipsey Hussle Source:R1 Digital

Did you know the late Nipsey Hussle, who’d served time in prison before, was on the advisory board of WordsUncaged? It’s a nonprofit organizations where prisoners serving life sentences learn to “reclaim their voices and reflect upon the harm they have caused through narrative therapy and creative writing workshops,” according to AP News. NIpsey was all about giving back. Not too long before his death, he headlined a free #TimeDone campaign concert that brought awareness to 70 million Americans living with a past conviction. Source:

7. Yandy Smith

Yandy Smith Source:R1 Digital

Yandy Smith took her support for criminal justice reform to the streets to protest on multiple occasions. Last year when approximately 1,600 inmates in Brooklyn were housed inside of a detention center without heat, hot water, hot meals or lights for days during a polar vortex, Yandy helped lead the protest that inquired about the well-being of prisoners. There, she was pepper sprayed and thrown to the ground by guards. She continued to stand up for prisoners’ rights, anyway. Source: