Six years ago today, on February 26, 2012 Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old African American high school student from Florida, was fatally shot by George Zimmerman. In a widely reported trial that consumed the American media, Zimmerman was charged with murder for Martin's death, but acquitted at trial. The media swell around this blatant injustice lasted for several months, culminating in a series of historic marches and the formation of Black Lives Matter. In the spirit of action and engagement around racial injustice, Oakland band Max Park will release their new single “Say Their Names” on February 26, 2018.
Racial disparities in the criminal justice system are nothing new. For example, based on data from a 2014 National Research Council report, drug-related arrest rates for blacks have been 3-4 times higher than those for whites, despite similar drug use rates. According to the Washington Post database of fatal police shootings, unarmed blacks are 75% more likely to be shot and killed by police than unarmed whites. When asked about the intentions of the song and project, Max Park member Tal Ariel states, “We want to change the culture...nothing less.” The band aims to do that by shining a light on the ongoing dehumanization and brutalization of people of color in the U.S.
“Say Their Names” is part song, part living memorial, and part multi-media social justice project with a crowd-sourced music video at its center. The song tells the story of how people of color in America have been demonized and vilified for hundreds of years, resulting in an America that is numb to the murder of innocent individuals like Trayvon Martin, Sandra Bland, Tamir Rice and others. According to the band, “Say Their Names” is unfinished and will continue to be a work in progress as long as the fight for racial justice is unfinished. New names of victims will unfortunately be added to the song, to honor their memory and ensure we don’t forget.
Max Park encourages everyone who believes in the message to submit their own personalized videos at www.MaxParkMusic.com
, which will provide a living story and drive content for a music video which will be shared out by partner organizations dedicated to this cause.
Max Park singer Lesley Grant says, “This issue has been ignored for far too long. It's important for us to start the conversation, no matter how painful it is to have. It's the action we take in remembering their names and carrying their stories with us; their lives were not lived in vain and will not be forgotten!” Max Park will donate all profits from “Say Their Names” to organizations working on racial justice issues, such as Color Of Change, East Oakland Collective, Know Your Rights Camp, SURJ, and others.
“Say Their Names” was written, performed and produced by Max Park and features the Oakland Youth Choir. The track was mastered by Mike Bozzi (Kendrick Lamar, Sza, Lana Del Rey, Snoop Dogg) and mixed by Stan Greene (Rihanna, Big Sean, Wale, Imagine Dragons). The band plans on releasing new tracks monthly throughout the year.
released February 26, 2018
Say Their Names - Credits
Written, Produced and Performed by Max Park
Oakland Youth Choir - Background vocals
Caitlyn Freeman - Background vocals
Olivia Monteil - Background vocals
La Nell Martin - Choir leader
Stan Greene - Mixing
Mike Bozzi - Mastering
Song by Lesley Grant, Tal Ariel
Recorded at TAP studio, Oakland CA
Choir recorded by Adam Muñoz at Fantasy Studios, Berkeley CA