Abel Tesfaye joins list of stars – including Beyoncé, Jay Z and Drake – who are making their support for the movement a matter of record
R&B star the Weeknd has donated $250,000 (£193,000) to the Black Lives Matter network. The Fader reported the donation, which was later confirmed by his representatives, according to other US reports.
The Weeknd – 26-year-old Abel Tesfaye – had previously Tweeted his support for the movement. Last month he told his followers: “Enough is enough. It’s time to stand up for this. We can either sit and watch, or do something about it. The time is now.”
Earlier this month the musician, whose parents emigrated to Canada from Ethiopia, had donated $50,000 to the University of Toronto to establish an Ethiopic studies course.
The focus on US police violence against people of colour and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement has become an increasingly important topic for some of US music’s biggest stars over the past year. Kendrick Lamar’s album To Pimp a Butterfly and Beyoncé’s Lemonade both addressed, with varying levels of directness, issues of black identity. Beyoncé also put the topic front and centre before the US’s biggest TV audience in February, when she performed her single Formation at the Super Bowl half-time show with dancers paying tribute to the Black Panthers.
Last month, both Beyoncé and her husband Jay Z responded to the shootings of Alton Sterling in Louisiana and Philando Castile in Minnesota. Jay Z released a song called Spiritual, along with a quote from the 19th-century abolitionist Frederick Douglass: “Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organised conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.”
Beyoncé said in a statement posted online: “We don’t need sympathy. We need everyone to respect our lives … These robberies of lives make us feel helpless and hopeless but we have to believe that we are fighting for the rights of the next generation. This is a fight for anyone who feels marginalised, who is struggling for freedom and human rights … The war on people of colour and all minorities needs to be over.”
At her concert in Glasgow in July, she called for a moment’s silence and used the giant screens on stage to display the names of black people killed by US police.
Drake, too, commented on the killings, posting a statement to Instagram in which he said: “It’s impossible to ignore that the relationship between black and brown communities and law enforcement remains as strained as it was decades ago. No one begins their life as a hashtag. Yet the trend of being reduced to one continues.”