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First look: T.I. pays homage to Black Lives Matter movement

Hip-hop star T.I. is paying homage to the Black Lives Matter movement with a new spoken word piece called “United We Stand.”

The poem, which references the deaths of unarmed African-Americans like Sandra Bland, Trayvon Martin and Eric Garner, will appear on the inaugural broadcast of the National Action Network’s 2015 Triumph Awards, which will be headlined by MSNBC host Rev. Al Sharpton. 

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“United We Stand, because we created a hashtag for Sandra Bland? Jumped off the front of the ship and dove into the internet waves, swimming with DM’s, Likes, Comments not noticing how much it makes us slaves,” says T.I., who delivers his dramatic soliloquy surrounded by silent members of the Youth Ensemble of Atlanta, a theater company, dressed in black.

“Our society’s issues are deeper than social media posts, there’s a long list and if you think solely making them a trending topic is going to solve them, then you are a part of the problem,” he adds.

T.I., who has a huge following on social media thanks to his chart-topping hits and side career as a reality TV star, got involved in the project because he was troubled by the lack of sustained interest in the Bland case. 

“I was surprised that within a couple of months after her death and the other deaths, the social media activity had all but stopped. Even I had to question myself as to what part am I really playing,” the Grammy winner said in a press release.

The 2015 Triumph Awards will air on TV One this Saturday at 8 p.m. EST.