John Legend, Gabrielle Union and Ava DuVernay and other Black culture leaders call to end racial injustice in letter

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From left: Gabrielle Union attends an event in Los Angeles on March 7, 2020; Ava DuVernay attends the Vanity Fair Oscars Party in Beverly Hills on Feb. 9, 2020; John Legend performs at an event at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on March 5, 2020. (Andrew Toth / Jean-Baptiste Lacroix / JC Olivera / Getty Images

From left: Gabrielle Union attends an event in Los Angeles on March 7, 2020; Ava DuVernay attends the Vanity Fair Oscars Party in Beverly Hills on Feb. 9, 2020; John Legend performs at an event at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on March 5, 2020. (Andrew Toth / Jean-Baptiste Lacroix / JC Olivera / Getty Images

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John Legend, Gabrielle Union and Ava DuVernay are some of the many black cultural leaders who have signed a letter to fight against racism, promote equal pay and ask industries to disassociate from police.

The letter was released Friday by a new organization called the Black Artists for Freedom, which describes itself as a collective of black workers in the culture industries. The letter was published to celebrate the Juneteenth holiday that long commemorated the emancipation of enslaved African Americans.

The organization said the letter was inspired by the recent protests against police brutality and systemic racism.

“They are working in the spirit of the Black Radical Tradition to reclaim our freedoms,” the letter said. “Their courage and imagination have inspired us to build on their necessary demands including chiefly, the abolition of police and the complete dismantling of the racist prison-industrial system.”

The letter included signatures from black workers in film, television, music, publishing, theater, journalism and education. It had a list of prominent names such as Sterling K. Brown, Lupita Nyong’o, Janelle Monae, Lena Waithe, Barry Jenkins, Lee Daniels and Tessa Thompson.

“No more stereotypes,” the letter read. “No more tokenism. No more superficial diversity. No longer will we watch Black culture be contorted into a vehicle for self-congratulation, complacency, guilt relief, experiential tourism, fetishism, appropriation and theft.”

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