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John Legend speaks on the importance of social activism

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In the face of injustice, John Legend refuses to stay silent. Whether it’s through his music or outspoken tweets, he always makes sure to use his public platform to be a voice for the Black community. During a Q&A on the Wal-Mart stage at the 2017 ESSENCE Festival, the award-winning singer reflected on the origins of his passion for activism.

“I just grew up in a family that believes that if you’ve been blessed then you’re supposed to pay it forward,” he said while speaking on the Walmart stage.

“When you have success, part of your success is giving back. I always knew when I was a kid that if I ever succeed in life, part of my responsibility as someone successful is to make sure I extended my hand out to young people who were trying to succeed themselves.”

When he is not performing, the multi-talented entertainer can be found fighting for criminal justice and education reform. He also took time to explain the many ways and reasons to get involved with social justice while speaking at ESSENCE Fest.

“We use music, we use the television and film projects that we do, and we get engaged with communities that are trying to fight for justice,” he added. “We get involved with elections, changing laws that are locking up too many of our people, and improving our schools. We get involved because we care about making sure every kid has an opportunity to succeed in this country and making sure we change the narrative about our people.”

This article originally appeared on Essence.com