dev hynes and willow smith protest gun violence in powerful photo campaign

Questlove orchestrated the project at The Roots Picnic in Philadelphia earlier this summer.

by Hannah Ongley
20 September 2016, 8:15pm

by Shayan Asgharnia for Okayplayer.

Immediately after the horrific shooting in Orlando earlier this summer — the worst mass shooting in U.S. history — Questlove took to Twitter to voice his frustration with America's gun violence epidemic. "What will it take just to have a conversation about #GunControl?" he asked, adding, "If it's a losing battle in the eyes of congress/senator to simply adjust the #GunControl issue (background checks hello!) that's a problem." Pointing to an NPR article stating that there is no government database on gun violence, he asked his followers to rally for real change. "Any knowledge people are willing to share that seems effective to start the process of working our way to a real changes welcome," he said. "Link me up." A week later, Questlove became one of nearly 200 high-profile celebrities to sign Billboard's open letter to Congress calling for gun control.

Behind the scenes, the multi-instrumentalist and beloved local DJ was working for real change even before the harrowing events of June 12 took place. Today, via his Okayplayer community platform, Questlove unveiled a powerful new gun control photo campaign in collaboration with nonprofit organization Everytown for Gun Safety. The campaign took shape during the Roots crew's 9th annual Roots Picnic in Philadelphia on June 4, and features artists who stand in solidarity with the movement. Dev Hynes, Willow Smith, Zoe Kravitz, Anderson .Paak, and Beyoncé protégés Chloe x Halle are among those pictured holding Okayplayer orange signs reading "WE CAN END GUN VIOLENCE."

Related link: 12 L.A. residents discuss gun control in America

An open letter beginning "Dear America" makes repeated references to Hadiya Pendleton, a Chicago teenager who was shot and killed on a playground just a week after performing at President Barack Obama's second inaugural parade in 2013. "America, you and your citizens are actively working together to end gun violence, build safer communities and educate the masses on why common-sense steps are necessary in this country." the letter reads. "We believe our collective voices can still be stronger than the dollars spent in silencing them. We and the special individuals represented in this gallery are challenging you, America, to wear orange in tribute to Hadiya Pendleton's life and raise awareness and to join the nonprofit's campaign to speak out against gun violence."


Text Hannah Ongley
Images via Okayplayer

Willow Smith
gun violence
Dev hynes