Kendrick Lamar's Alright: Black Lives Matter conference uses song as rallying cry
Kendrick Lamar’s 2015 release, To Pimp A Butterfly, is a dense, 16-track chronicle of the experience of being black in America that’s made up of a pastiche of the entire history of black American music. Along with rap, soul, jazz, funk, blues, arguably the most affecting part of the album was its highly politicized spoken word interludes, as used in “Alright.”
That the record (or parts of it) would eventually find a home outside the confines of its own political commentary and join the cry of other rallies, groups, and movements was inevitable — and came to fruition on Sunday when activists protesting against police harassment at Cleveland State University used “Alright” for their chant as they left a Black Lives Matter conference.
Police had officers detained a 14-year-old black boy for alleged public intoxication, and following his arrest, protesters surrounded the officers and blocked the police cruiser’s path. Shortly after, the activists began chanting “Alright,” as seen in the below video.
The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA) has released a statement on the incident. It is reprinted in its entirety below.