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Citizenship

Activism takes center stage at the Grammys

I don’t know about you, but my favorite part of the 57th Annual Grammy Awards this past Sunday was watching the stage turn into a platform for activism. Nerd alert - but as a global citizen, graduate student studying non-profit management and self proclaimed activist, I was SUPER stoked to see this unfold.

I’ve had several conversations with friends of mine lately about just this. Artists, especially in the music world, have such a powerful platform to discuss things that really matter and the unique ability to reach an incredibly large audience. I feel like with a voice that is amplified loudly, it is their responsibility to speak up for those who are most vulnerable and for those who have been silenced.

Several times throughout the award show we saw this in action. From Prince talking about how Black Lives Matter to Sam Smith discussing the rights of gay men and women and the transgender community. I thought it was pretty amazing to see these stars utilize their voices to talk about such important issues, like domestic violence.

Photo: UpWorthy 

Photo: attn

Before Katy Perry took the stage, President Obama delivered an inspirational PSA announcing a new campaign to end violence against women and girls called It’s On Us. (check it out above!) He addressed us with this awesome call to action:

"Tonight, we celebrate artists whose music message helps shape our culture and together, we can change our culture for the better by ending violence against women and girls. Right now, nearly one in five women in America has been a victim of rape or attempted rape. And more than one in four women has experienced some form of domestic violence. It's not okay. And it has to stop. Artists have a unique power to change minds and attitudes and get us thinking and talking about what matters. And all of us, in our own lives, have the power to set an example.

Join our campaign to stop this violence. Go to itsonus.org, and take the pledge. And to the artists and the Grammys tonight, I ask you to ask your fans to do it, too. It's on us, all of us, to create a culture where violence isn't tolerated, where survivors are supported and where all our young people, men and women, can go as far as their talents and their dreams will take them."

Brooke Axtell, an incredible activist and survivor of domestic violence and trafficking, followed the President with a truly inspiring example of how powerful speaking out is. She shared her story and these beautiful words:

"Authentic love does not devalue another human being. Authentic love does not silence shame or abuse. If you are in a relationship with someone who does not honor and respect you, I want you to know that you are worthy of love. Please reach out for help. Your voice will save you. Let it extend into the night, let it part the darkness. Let it set you free to know who you truly are: valuable, beautiful, loved."

Finally, Katy Perry left us with this emotional performance of her song “By the Grace of God.”

Katy Perry singing at the 2015 Grammys Source: Screenshot of CBS Broadcast

Overall, it was a pretty incredible night of music and activism and I was left feeling inspired to take action and use my own voice. Did you feel the same way? The good news is, you don’t need to be a famous celebrity to speak out about the issues that matter to you. There are so many opportunities to stand up and take action. Here are a few:

1. Show Your Selfie and contribute to a visual petition that brings the rights and needs of today's youth into the spotlight.

2. Become a global citizen and join the movement to end extreme poverty by 2030.  

3. Sign the It’s on Us Petition and make a personal commitment to help keep women and men safe from sexual assault.

4. Become a He for She and help fight for gender equality.

5. Join the Action 2015 movement and help make 2015 count by creating a future free from poverty, inequality and dangerous climate change.

As MLK so rightly noted “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” It’s time to get involved, global citizens, and use our collective voice!!

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Natalie Prolman