Pharrell Williams curated the latest TIME cover and project, which features a collection of essays and conversations between Black leaders of “The New American Revolution,” such as Angela Davis, Kenya Barris, Yara Shahidi and more. The cover for this issue was done by 23-year-old artist Nneka Jones and features an unfinished American flag.
In a press release obtained by The Root, Williams explains that for this project he wanted to bring some of the most influential Black voices across industries together in order to have necessary conversations about how to move forward in these socially conscious times.
“I wanted to convey a vision of a future filled with the artists, creators and entrepreneurs who can fulfill the promise of this country’s principles,” he writes. “America’s wealth was built on the slave labor of Black people: This is our past. To live up to America’s ideals, we must trust in a Black vision of the future.” The Root’s very own Michael Harriot helped to pen the piece.
Artists, musicians and activists were paired to discuss various topics. For instance, Tyler, The Creator and Kenya Barris had a conversation about art centered around various personal perspectives, while tennis superstar Naomi Osaka and basketball player Mikey Williams chatted about the new league of Black athletes speaking up about what they face in the sports world.
“We’re young Black athletes. We have spotlights on us,” Williams says during their talk. “I want to be that role model for somebody. Hopefully, I’m going to be fortunate to do things like build schools, help out kids in need and put more people on to HBCUs. It’s really important we understand our power.”
Other figures include Hinduism scholar Douglas Brooks with physician Otis Brawley, who discussed COVID-19’s potentially long-lasting effects on health disparities; Curator Tyree Boyd-Pates with educator Geoffrey Canada, who had a conversation about America reckoning with the mistakes of the past; and U.S. Representative Barbara Lee with politician Jamaal Bowman, who talked about the movements for racial equality.
In conjunction with the cover story and accompanying art, Pharrell announced that he was dropping a new song with Jay-Z on Friday. Titled “Entrepreneur,” Williams says that the song’s intention pertains to the difficulties that come with being an entrepreneur of color.
“There’s a lot of systemic disadvantages and purposeful blockages,” he explains. “How can you get a fire started, or even the hope of an ember to start a fire, when you’re starting at disadvantages with regards to health care, education, and representation?”
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