With the presidential election less than two weeks away and a heated final debate between President Donald Trump and Democratic candidate Joe Biden now over, SOHH gives filmmaker Darryl Wharton-Rigby an opportunity to explain how his must-watch “STAND” music video – which features woke lyrics and iconic moments in Black rights history – is much more than a protest visual for Black Lives Matter but a call to action.
[Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own. SOHH.com provides a platform for thoughtful and sound perspectives from Hip-Hop culture.]
When I heard the song, STAND, I connected with it immediately. I was honored to be asked to direct the music video. It all came together quickly and was in international effort. I am in Japan, just outside of Tokyo. The group is mostly in Baltimore, which is also my hometown. And, our editor was in New York. Thus, this was done remotely with a lot of communication happening online and in different time zones.
Conceptually, I wanted to connect the dots of the Black Lives Matter movement in historical context. Visually it’s a collage or a patchwork akin to a digital quilt. Since there are four primary members in the group, Jeff, Tavon, Wayne, and Antoine this idea arose of splitting the screen into four quadrants. Each member would occupy their own panel.
Surrounding them, I wanted to have images of the BLM movement as well as others that put it all into context. None of what is happening now is in a vacuum. It’s part of a continuum. I wanted to show this in the video.
We have images of Crispus Attucks, who is considered the first person to die for American independence from the British. We show Whipped Peter who escaped slavery in 1863 in Lousiana. We give props to abolitionist John Brown along with shosts of people like Muhammad Ali, Nina Simone, Al Sharpton, Angela Davis, Shirley Chisolm, and Fannie Lou Hamer. We also wanted to touch on the fact that the movement encompases Native Americans, Asians, and Latinix people. This is shown with footage of people like Russell Means and Yuri Kochiyama
Through this work, we wanted to link BLM to the Civil Rights movement and the work of the Black Panther Party. They all have spoken out against police brutality. Also included are images or the names of Black people who have been attacked and we see that have been used with hashtags over the past few years – Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Sandra Bland, Philando Castille, Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin.
We hope that people will watch the video with an open mind and do further research. There are so many more images and people that we could have included. But at the end of the day, we want people to take a stand to see that there are people who have died for their freedom. There are people fighting against injustice. And that we all must work together to make America live up to what it touts to be. And, the one thing that we can do to use our voice collectively is to vote, which is essentially the final message of the video. It’s not just about protest, but a call to action.