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Indy musician creates video centered on Juneteenth, social injustice

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Social injustice inspired two Indy men to take an artistic approach to address the issue.

One day after Juneteenth became a federal holiday, the men said their music video “Independence Day” takes on even stronger significance. They are calling the song a Juneteenth anthem.

A Pike High School graduate partnered with his former teacher to help bring the lyrics to life. Both said, while they are excited about Juneteenth becoming a federal holiday, it’s not lost on them that we are far from having the social justice so many still hope for.

There comes a time when you just feel like you’ve had enough. Zion Simpson said Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd and Breonna Taylor’s back-to-back deaths took him there.

“And that was the moment I decided I was going to write my feelings down,” said Simpson.

It’s his words playing out in this music video. He said as more people learn about the day, it feeds into the modern themes of change, equity and social justice.

“For people who want an outlet, I would say use your voice please use it,” Simpson said.

Simpson said the video is more than entertainment. It’s a reality check referencing a part in the video where his image shows up painted on the wall along with others who’ve died. Watching it the first time was jarring.

“It shouldn’t be you, and it shouldn’t be me, and this shouldn’t be us, but but it’s happening,” he said.

But this creation is a combination of talents. Simpson musically and Al Smith visually. Smith is one of Simpson’s former teachers and a filmmaker.

“When he sent it over to me, I was blown away. I was like, man, this is dope, this is good stuff. Yes, let’s do it,” said Smith.

When the video finishes, those watching are encouraged to download a discussion guide and really talk about the impacts of systemic racism and injustice.

“Mission that I have just for my life is to empower young people that they have a voice,” said Smith. “And I want to get behind anything that is positive. And push for the movement as far as the quality the whole social injustice piece.”

The video was filmed all around Indianapolis. And St. Paul’s Indy Church helped sponsor its creation.

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