John Legend Performs ‘Penthouse Floor’ at Riverside Church | Artists Den

John Legend Performs ‘Penthouse Floor’ at Riverside Church | Artists Den


The Riverside Church from its founding was started to be a center of Christian Justice and advocacy. From the beginning we’ve been a place for the poor and the oppressed. One of the gifts of this amazing church is its platform. So we have wonderful artists and speakers and thinkers who want to come here and to talk about issues like environmental justice and LGBTQ rights, and there are not a lot of churches around America in which those kind of cutting-edge justice conversations can happen. So Riverside has always been known for that and we can serve as a model for other institutions and other churches around the country as we bring the voice of Faith to bear on these very important justice issues. The Riverside Church is always had a concern and compassion for people living in the prison correctional system. We have Ministries from the beginning that have served those who are both incarcerated and folks were recently released, so returning citizens. the church is dedicated to serving that population. We have volunteers who go into prisons and detention facilities, and we also have a Ministry called coming home that works in the last four years we’ve served about 70 plus men and women who are returning citizens, previously incarcerated, offering them mentorship and support so that they can come back into citizenship outside of the jail system, and find greater success than when they went in. issues of prison reform and incarceration are critically important to this Community of Faith and I think in our country where we have a cradle to prison pipeline it’s an injustice that is real documented and needs to change. Here in New York, of course, we’re confronting some of the Injustice that’s going on at Rikers Island and sort of asking ourselves the question like what kind of people are we where we live in communities where this kind of horrible mistreatment happens and so communities of Faith should be partnering with artists to call our attention to these issues of Injustice and to make us change our ways. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how to make my community better speak out for people who are poor who are disenfranchised who are often left behind and a lot of that work was focused in schools. so, that’s always been important to me, but one of the things that stood out to me as I would communicate with the young people and with their teachers was that a lot of these kids were living in one parent homes, and you know people live in single-parent homes for all kinds of reasons, but one of the striking reasons that I would come and run into a lot was that one of their parents was locked up, and I also realized that it was easier for me to raise money for the schools because everyone sympathizes with young people and they still have fertile minds that are, you know, easily molded, and they have the innocence, but as soon as they’re like 14 and they get in trouble we’re trying them as adults or locking them up for 15, 20 25 years and essentially throwing their lives away. Not always the case, they can recover from that but it’s hard for them recover and we’re doing that to people often at the age of fourteen sixteen eighteen years old And these are the same kids that we just, you know, a few years ago said, “hey they’re in need. We need to help them. We need to get them better schools.” Obviously, they have a lot of challenges and then when the human response to all those challenges is that some of them may go the wrong direction. That’s a human response. And then we wonder why these neighborhoods could never come back. We’re like creating conditions. and then perpetuating conditions that make it harder for them to do so. and I knew it affected my family as well, you know, I’d seen it with my mother seen it with friends of mine that grew up in my neighborhood and I felt a personal sense of connection to it, and also just a broader societal sense that we need to have some urgency around this issue.

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