Janelle Monáe Says “Choose Freedom Over Fear” In Her Powerful Women’s March Speech (Video)

On the heels of her critically acclaimed appearances in the hugely successful films Hidden Figures and Moonlight, Janelle Monáe made an appearance at this weekend’s historic Women’s March in Washington, D.C. and made a powerful speech. In it, she urged the importance of embracing immigrants, the LGBTQ community, and all marginalized women to fight for gender equality. But she also used the opportunity to bring attention to issues particular to women of color, namely police brutality.

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She began by telling the massive crowd that her grandmother was a sharecropper who picked cotton, while her mother was a janitor. Inspired by those women and the countless others who came before her, Monáe then goes into detail about why she decided to take part in the march. “I am here in their honor to help us move forward and Fem the Future,” she explains. “I want to remind you that it was woman that gave you Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It was woman that gave you Malcolm X. And, according to the Bible, it was a woman that gave you Jesus,” she says. She argues that we must remind those who abuse power of those facts, and shares that she is present in the movement to “fight against” that abuse.

“Continue to embrace the things that make you unique, even if it makes others uncomfortable. And whenever you feel in doubt, whenever you want to give up, you must always remember to choose freedom over fear,” she says while raising up her hands. After telling the crowd that she is here not as an artist but as an American woman with the same concerns as any other, she proclaims “the things that are happening, from Washington to other Americans abusing their power and abusing others, will be hidden no more. Women will be hidden no more. We will not remain hidden figures,” she says, referencing the film of the same name which tells the little known story of the Black women responsible for one of NASA’s most important missions into space. “We are complete human beings, and they cannot police us, so get off our areolas, get off our vaginas. Again, we birthed this nation and we can unbirth a nation if we choose, ” Monáe tells patriarchy.

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It’s then that Monáe welcomes to the stage Jidenna and the Mothers of the Movement (the mothers of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, and other victims of killer police) as she discusses the abuse of power in the police force. However, she didn’t simply speak on it; rather she, Jidenna and the mothers performed her police brutality anthem “Hell You Talmbout.” Throughout the performance, the names of victims are delivered in a call-and-response format with the audience involved. It’s an arresting display of Black unity, poetry, music, and revolutionary acts.

“At the end of the day, we all pee the same color,” says Janelle Monáe. To get involved in the ongoing fight to remind American government of that equality, check out the official Women’s March website to learn about its 10 Actions/100 Days movement for political engagement.