Ryan Coogler, Ava Duvernay, David Oyelowo, Common, And More Explain “My Life Matters”

An eloquent, powerful statement from the Blackout For Human Rights campaign.

WHAT: A new campaign from the activist organization Blackout For Human Rights, the group that–among other things–attracted a number of African-American luminaries in the film industry to Michigan for a benefit for Flint on Oscar night. This time out, they’ve got four videos under the banner “My Life Matters.”


WHO: The Hollywood headliners are Ryan Coogler, Ava Duvernay, Common, and David Oyelowo, but the videos feature a number of possessed of varying degrees of fame–Boris Kodjoe of Real Husbands of Hollywood, attorney John Burris, radio/TV personality LaLa Anthony, and more all offer testimonials.

WHY WE CARE: There are a number of urgent issues facing the country right now, and chief among them is the relationship between police, violence, and the African-American citizens they’re tasked with serving and protecting. In each of the segments, the subject sits in front of the camera, describing some of the highlights of their life–Coogler talks about playing high school football against Marshawn Lynch before deciding to go to film school, Oyelowo talks about playing Henry VI at the Royal Shakespeare Company at the age of 24, La La Anthony talks about becoming a Broadway producer–before explaining that, if they’d died like Tamir Rice, Freddie Gray, or Sandra Bland, they’d never have had the opportunity to do any of that. It’s a potent way to drive home that each life lost isn’t just a tragedy for the people who knew them, or an injustice perpetrated in the name of all of us who are meant to be protected and served by police. Each one of those deaths robs the world of the light they’d have brought to it. Whether that shines in big ways like the superstars, or people whose accomplishments are quieter and more personal, it’s a loss we all feel every time, and these videos drive that home eloquently.

About the author

Dan Solomon lives in Austin with his wife and his dog. He's written about music for MTV and Spin, sports for Sports Illustrated, and pop culture for Vulture and the AV Club.