Rhymefest will be leading a free public vigil for victims of gun violence in Chicago Sunday (Oct. 9). The Grammy winner spoke about the vigil with Chicago LIVE Thursday (Oct. 6), as well as issues facing his hometown, and why he’s not an activist.
“I don’t like the word activist, because advocate says I’m advocating on behalf of a community or someone else,” he explained. “I don’t think people need to be advocated for, I think people need to be given agency over themselves. If we can — as artists, entertainers, athlete, media people — if we can use our platform to help people give agency over our own lives, that’s great. But to set ourselves up as the advocate of someone else really continues to set them up for failure.”
Rhymefest added that everyone has the potential to be their own advocate. “I believe that everyone if given the right opportunities can be strong enough to stand up for themselves,” he continued. “For decades communities have been divested from, and people haven’t been given the opportunities to education, to jobs, to things that allow them to stand up for themselves. I think people have been bargaining on their behalf and that’s been the problem. “
He also discussed getting robbed at gunpoint in Chicago last month, and being mistreated by the police when he went to report the incident.
“We have too many walls in Chicago and not enough bridges,” he added. “It’s time that we start being solution based in areas others than just the South and West sides of Chicago, because all Chicago is suffering from trauma. “
Gun violence has been a major issue in Chicago, and other cities around the country. In August, the Windy City marked it’s most violent month in the last 20 years.
The Rhymfest-hosted vigil will be held at the Lincoln Park Presbyterian Church at 5 p.m. CST.
Watch his full interview below.