JAY-Z’s Roc Nation and the NFL have announced the first programs to benefit the NFL’s Inspire Change nonprofit, an initiative that seeks to fundraise for organizations committed to education and economic empowerment, police and community relations, and criminal justice reform. The first program is Inspire Change apparel, a new clothing line that will be revealed later this year.
The second is Songs of the Season, a program that will highlight musicians, debut their new songs during NFL broadcasts, and put all proceeds towards Inspire Change. Meek Mill, Meghan Trainor and Rapsody are the first artists to be announced for this program, and will perform at the NFL Kickoff Experience in Chicago’s Grant Park on September 5.
Earlier this month, JAY-Z and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced that JAY-Z and his production company, Roc Nation, would work with the league as a “live music entertainment strategist.” They’ll work together on Super Bowl halftime programming in addition to the NFL’s Inspire Change nonprofit.
The news stood at odds with JAY-Z’s support for Colin Kaepernick. JAY-Z has said he declined to perform at the 2018 Super Bowl in solidarity with Kaepernick’s protests, and he wore the former quarterback’s jersey while performing on “SNL”. In 2017, Beyoncé made a surprise appearance at Sports Illustrated’s Sportsperson of the Year to present Kaepernick with the Muhammad Ali Legacy Award for his work.
During a press conference initially announcing his partnership with the league, JAY-Z said that he had spoken privately with Kaepernick about the collaboration, but did not share the details of their conversation. He was repeatedly asked about Kaepernick. “We forget that Colin’s whole thing was to bring attention to social injustice,” he said. “In that case, this is a success. This is the next thing, because there are two parts to the protest—you go out and protest, and the company and individual says, ‘I hear you. What do we do next?’”
The same day as the press conference, Kaepernick wrote, “I continue to work and stand with the people in our fight for liberation, despite those who are trying to erase the movement! The movement has always lived with the people!”