Janelle Monáe is well-known for merging her artistry with activism. Now, in conjunction with the African American Policy Forum and the #SayHerName Mothers Network, she and several other Black female artists and activists are joining forces to raise money for the AAPF and honor the countless Black women and girls who were killed at the hands of law enforcement through a new single, “Say Her Name.”
The song is a follow-up to her 2015 protest song, “Hell You Talmbout,” which she wrote and performed with her Wondaland artist collective in response to police brutality. “Say Her Name” features Kimberlé Crenshaw (founder of the #SayHerName network), Beyoncé, Alicia Keys, Chlöe x Halle, Tierra Whack, Isis V., Zoë Kravitz, Brittany Howard, Asiahn, Mj Rodriguez, Jovian Zayne, Angela Rye, Nikole Hannah-Jones, Brittany Packnett Cunningham, and Alicia Garza.
The “Django Jane” singer issued a statement in a press release received by VIBE. “We support the tireless work that #SayHerName has been doing for years to help bring these mothers justice for their daughters. This work is too important to do alone and can only be sustained through our collective voices. We take up this call to action as daughters ourselves trying to create a world where stories like these are no longer commonplace.
“This is a rally cry. We aim to give reverence to the countless Black women and girls who should be with us today. And to their mothers who have suffered this unbearable loss. They matter. Their names matter. Their stories matter. And justice needs to be served. May we all commit ourselves to protecting Black women and girls and making systemic changes to protect our sisters from the abuse of power in the police force. Please join us and #SayHerName.”
Crenshaw stated, ”We are honored that Ms. Monae and so many artists have lent their voices to reverse what we’ve called the “loss of the loss,” said. We’ve seen first hand the long term consequences of this unimaginable loss of life at the hands of police. This song comes at an especially challenging moment for the #SayHerName Mothers Network as we gather to mourn the loss of Cassandra Johnson, who witnessed the slaying of her daughter Tanisha Anderson by the Cleveland police during a mental health call. Although her commitment to seek justice for Tanisha sustained her, her death last week makes her another casualty of the brutality that took Tanisha’s life. With this song, we honor Cassandra, Vickie McAdory, another of our sisters who was broken by the killing of India Beaty, and all of the families who have suffered the tragedy of stolen lives and the indignity and trauma that follows. This song tells them that we see them and will bear witness until justice is done.”
The 17-minute song also honors Rekia Boyd, Latasha Nicole Walton, Atatiana Jefferson, Kendra James, Priscilla Slater, Yuvette Henderson, Renee Davis, Kyam Livingston, Cynthia Fields, Kindra Chapman, India Kager, Shelly Frey, LaJuana Phillips, Kisha Michael, Dannette Daniels, Crystal Ragland, Pamela Turner, Latandra Ellington, Crystalline Barnes, Korryn Gaines, Michelle Cusseaux, India Cummings, Sandra Bland, Symone Marshall, Yvette Smith, Margaret Mitchell, Mya Hall, Tyisha Miller, Alesia Thomas, Kayla Moore, Alberta Spruill, Breonna Taylor, Aiyana Stanley-Jones, Nizah Morris, LaTanya Haggerty, Layleen Polanco, Shereese Francis, Sheneque Proctor, April Webster, Kathryn Johnston, Michelle Shirley, India Beaty, Tanisha Anderson, Sandy Guardiola, Shukri Ali Said, Duanna Johnson, Eleanor Bumpurs, Jessica Williams, Sarah Riggins, Charleena Lyles, Sharmel Edwards, Deborah Danner, Joyce Curnell, Natasha McKenna, Darnesha Harris, Pearlie Golden, Miriam Carey, and Tarika Wilson.
The single—which can be heard above and on all digital streaming platforms—comes ahead of International Daughters Day, which takes place this Sunday (Sept. 26).