JAY-Z & Roc Nation Took A Big Stand For The Boy Who Sat For The Pledge Of Allegiance

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In 2019, JAY-Z is as much a social activist as he is MC, entrepreneur, Puma executive, and social influencer. While Shawn Carter has been close to many issues, especially in the last 15 years, he and Roc Nation are bringing change to families and circumstances that relate to the interests of the company and its figurehead.

Last month (February 4), 11-year-old Jabari Talbot was arrested in Lakeland, Florida after refusing to stand for the Pledge Of Allegiance in his sixth-grade classroom. A substitute teacher, Ana Alvarez, reportedly scolded the Lawton Chiles Middle Academy student, before Talbot was removed from the room and detained.

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According to Bay News 9, Jabari Talbot opted not to participate in the classroom ritual because he felt “the flag was racist and the national anthem was offensive to Black people.” Alvarez reportedly responded to the child with a question, asking why he does not leave if he was unhappy with the country. “They brought me here,” responded Talbot.

“Well you can always go back because I came here from Cuba,” the substitute responded, according to an Associated Press report, “and the day I feel I’m not welcome here anymore I would find another place to live,” before allegedly contacting school officials because she “did not want to continue dealing with him.”

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Shortly after the call, a school resource officer arrested the student, reportedly citing disruptive behavior and a refusal to comply with classroom instructions. School reports state that Talbot verbally threatened the teacher, principal, and resource officer.

Since February 4, JAY-Z and Team ROC have gotten involved. The same Roc Nation legal team that has been working on 21 Savage’s ongoing immigration case as well as arrests in Tennessee related to wearing hoodies in a mall, took a stand for Jabari Talbot. Attorney Alex Spiro, who has previously represented Jay, Mick Jagger, Charles Oakley, and others, took on the Talbot case at no fee. On March 1, it was announced that the case has been dismissed.

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In a tweet from Team ROC, the division announced that their client was offered a deal to plead guilty. They refused the offer, under the assertion that the 11-year-old committed no crime.

“Jabari is a courageous and intelligent young man who deserves all the credit for standing up for his beliefs,” Spiro said in a press statement published by Complex. “He should’ve never been arrested or entangled in this situation—his freedom of speech rights were clearly protected under the 1st Amendment.”

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Jabari’s mother, Dhakira Talbot, stated, “My son and I are grateful for all the athletes, entertainers, Roc Nation and community of supporters that have raised awareness about this injustice and showed their support—both publicly and privately.” She added, “Although Jabari’s case has been dismissed, I do want people to know this isn’t just about my son—this prejudice happens to African-American kids all across the country. The fight isn’t over, which is why I have a civil rights complaint pending with the U.S. Department of Education. At the end of the day, I want to ensure that no child ever has to experience this injustice again and we will appreciate everyone’s continued support.”

For years, JAY-Z has pledged public support of Colin Kaepernick, who protested the unjust and unpunished killings of Black people in the United States by kneeling for the national anthem at NFL games.