John Legend Performs “Glory” At Into Action In Los Angeles

Friday, January 19th

Happy Friday. It’s been a long week, but I knew I had to end it on a high note. Tonight, I was finally able to visit the Into Action art gallery/exhibit in downtown Los Angeles. This is A Celebration of Cultural Resistance + Community Power. AND IT’S FREE! They could have easily charged, but they decided to make it open to the public. I saw Kehlani post about it before it opened, which gave it an immediate cosign. It runs from Saturday, January 13 through Monday, January 21, so If You’re Reading This, It’s Not Too Late. *Drake voice*


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Even better? Vic Mensa debuted his “We Could Be Free” music video here on Monday. That’s so fire. I wish I could have gone, but I had Trippie Redd’s show. Vic Mensa embodies the definition of a socially-conscious rapper. Which is exactly why I wanted to come so bad. Every piece of art in this exhibit had meaning, truth, and power. Every which way you looked, there was depth, creativity, and inspiration. The description read: ” a large-scale art exhibition, cultural and community gathering in downtown LA.” Hell yeah, I was coming. The crazy thing is, I came alone. I usually hate going to things alone, but there were so many people, it didn’t even cross my mind.

Huge thanks to Julia, Jenn, and Coco for being so great and responsive. It was a little before 8pm on Friday evening, and I pull up to 1726 North Spring Street to find a line that wrapped around the entire block. Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if people were unable to get inside. I’ve never seen an art gallery turnout like this. This was bigger than free museum day at the MOMA. The best part? It’s open until 10pm every day. This gives people something to look forward to after work, or during the weekend.

Huge thanks to Julia, who was an absolute sweetheart. There were honestly SO many people trying to get inside. Within 5 minutes of observing all the commotion, I had already decided this was a huge success. Into Action was definitely the place to be. The goal was to catch John Legend’s talk at 8pm, which I was honestly afraid I wasn’t going to make. The moment I step inside, I was already in love with every single piece I saw hanging on the walls. This exhibit took over an entire warehouse, and you were able to walk through it like a maze, at your own leisure. This was one of my favorite pieces. What a statement.

in a room with #johnlegend rn & super inspired. s/o @intoactionus

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There were endless photo opps, and I only took one. Working in the industry, this really spoke to me. Love the homie’s comment saying he would wear this if it were a shirt. The other homie on Twitter tagged the artist (@og_slick) for me. Love how everything comes full circle. As I walked through the hallways, I kept hearing this loud crashing noise every minute or so. I was informed it was this interactive portion where you write something about hate onto a plate, and smash it against the wall. AMAZING. It’s supposed to be very therapeutic. I honestly would come back just to experience this. There were also pieces from Shepard Fairey’s DAMAGED exhibit and a Bobby Hundreds retail store. Lit.

Into Action’s overall programming includes voices from high-profile social justice, political, and community organizers to activate important conversations among political leaders, youth activists, artists, and performers. Tonight: Bryan Stevenson & John Legend // Mass Incarceration + Unlocked Futures. At 8pm, I enter another vast room with a glorious stage and rows and rows of people. Each chair was already taken. You guys, I know the more important focus here is the topic, but it’s John Legend. In the flesh. He is one of the best singers to ever do it. With as many shows as I go to, I was devastated I wasn’t able to make it to his last tour. This was a “critical conversation around the crisis of mass incarceration, criminal justice reform, and support structures for returning community members who’ve been impacted by the justice system.”

Thanks to Wiki: Bryan A. Stevenson is an American lawyer, social justice activist, founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, and a clinical professor at New York University School of Law. Honestly, I was so blown away by all that he had to say. He was so knowledgeable, respectable, personable, and someone you could tell genuinely cared about the world and its people. The talk began with Bryan praising a “young man named John for using his voice to free America.” There were so many takeaways from the evening. So many things I did not know about the corrupt justice system we have.

“American Mask” by Billie Grace Lynn • #intoaction Photo: @madrigal

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“Injustice prevails where hopelessness exists” is a phrase that really stuck out to me. John spoke on why he felt so strongly about this topic of incarceration, and it was mainly because his close family had been through it. He encouraged us and told us we have to be the storytellers. He brought up many great points such as how there are no other countries that have life without parole, and how awful our bail system is. We think it’s normal because we see it on Law & Order, but it’s not. And certainly not for rest of world.

John also pointed out there’s no other country in the world that are executing people. It’s just crazy because these are all facts. Just no one is talking about it. Bryan proceeded to tell us about a 67-year-old man named Vernon who was sentenced to the death penalty in Alabama, one of the few states that still utilize it. He spent 30 years on Death Row. The man has dementia and had to be wheelchaired to his execution. He had no idea what was going on. My heart sunk. Literally. Moments like this I really wish I stuck it out in the field of social work. Still in school, but it makes me wish I could make a difference.

@johnlegend singing “Glory” at @intoactionus 👏🏾👏🏾 #JohnLegend

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Bryan had so many quotable moments tonight. One of them was that we have to experience uncomfortable things to see justice grow. The problem is, we all like comfort. Which is true when you think about it. Who likes discomfort? When you do the uncomfortable thing, you gain power the more you do it. I damn near felt like he was talking to me. Literally, the room was speechless. Everyone was listening attentively and applying it to their own lives. This is no bullshit media-starved event either. This is as real as real gets. AND THEN, the crowd begs John to sing. He busts out in “Glory” with Common, featured in the film Selma.

Almost cried lmao. Forreal. John Legend’s voice is so fucking beautiful. One-of-a-kind. The event wrapped up with things coming “Into Action,” pun intended. We were forced to exit out the big spacious room but could circle back to the exhibit if we wanted (even though they were closing soon). I decided to walk across the way to the other huge building, which proved to be the gift shop area of the exhibit. This place was just as dope. It had everything, from music to art to an extremely artsy photo booth. Into Action, thank you for a great evening. If you guys have a chance to go tomorrow, please do so. They also accept donations via Venmo (@intoaction), which is a gamechanger.

Got to my car and noticed Drake dropped two new tracks. “God’s Plan” on repeat.

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