Grammy® award-winning Coldplay held a special two-night sold-out concert series at The Palladium in Hollywood, which kicked off on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, in support of two pivotal and influential organizations advocating for prison reform. During this limited tour for their new album Everyday Life, Coldplay joined together with Reform LA Jails, “A New Way of Life” Reentry Project (ANWOL) and Harness to raise awareness about local criminal justice reform efforts and give a voice to those impacted by incarceration.
The first concert, held on January 20th, supported Reform L.A. Jails’ “Yes on R,” a ballot measure that advocates for prison reform and alternatives to incarceration. Night two supported nonprofit organization “A New Way of Life” Reentry Project (ANWOL), which provides housing and support to formerly incarcerated women for successful community reentry, family reunification, and individual healing. This partnership was organized by Harness, a nonprofit organization started by actress America Ferrera, which convenes and activates artists and activists to advance social justice.
In celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the first concert included opening performances by upcoming rapper Bobby Gonz who performed “Beyoutiful” and “Time In Space,”, and by Compton hip hop artist Boogie who performed hit songs such as “Silent ride,” “lol smh” and “Self destruction.” Before Coldplay hit the stage, activist and founder of “Yes on R,” Patrisse Cullors, gave a riveting speech alongside Harness co-founder, America Ferrera, highlighting why Measure R is important for Los Angeles voters.
Kicking off Citi’s Sound Vault concert series during Grammy week, the second concert held was on January 21st in support of “A New Way of Life” Reentry Project (ANWOL). Before Coldplay took the stage, Academy Award-winning actress and activist Natalie Portman introduced activist and founder of ANWOL, Susan Burton to talk about Measure R and how voters can improve the lives of formerly incarcerated women in Los Angeles.
“When I heard Susan’s (Burton) story and read her book, I was deeply moved to get involved with A New Way of Life and learn more about their work,” noted Portman. “When I visited the facility, I saw the incredible services ANWOL provides these women and, most importantly, Susan’s belief in these women and their ability to succeed. The vast majority of women behind bars were physically or sexually abused prior to imprisonment. Trauma often leads to incarceration; and organizations like ANWOL aid with healing to break these cycles.”
This important collaboration was sparked at a Harness salon hosted by Natalie Portman at Ava DuVernay’s Array campus in September 2019, which convened industry leaders and artists to discuss how mass incarceration is impacting Black and Brown communities. The salon featured Patrisse Cullors and Susan Burton. Coldplay’s Chris Martin was in attendance and he committed on the spot to supporting these leaders and their organizations.
“I started my organization, Harness, along with my husband Ryan Piers Williams and our friend Wilmer Valderrama to connect artists and activists so they could work together on imagining and creating a more just world,” said Ferrera. “At Harness’ salon on criminal justice Coldplay jumped at the chance to use their enormous platform to raise awareness and support for the incredible work of Patrisse Cullors and Susan Burton. They more than delivered on that promise. Thank you to Coldplay for being allies in the effort to reform criminal justice and jails right here in Los Angeles. They have been extraordinarily generous with their talent and resources to lift up the voices of incredible activists who work towards more justice in Los Angeles on a daily basis.”
The “Yes on R” campaign will be on the California presidential primary March 3, 2020 ballot as a response to the systemic corruption and structural oppression that has shaped the lives of black and brown residents, the homeless, and people who struggle with mental illness or disability in Los Angeles County. Similarly to how Dr. Martin Luther King fought against racial segregation in Alabama, which developed into a national effort, this is a celebration of taking a local movement to a national platform on the day of his remembrance.
“So many of us have built a local movement to transform the ways our loved ones are impacted by policing and incarceration. It was a true honor to have Coldplay and Harness support Yes on R at the Palladium to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day,” said Cullors. “Big thank you to America Ferrera and Chris Martin for being such passionate advocates for those of us fighting on the ground. We can only hope LA County comes together and vote yes on Measure R this upcoming March.”
“A New Way of Life” Reentry Project (ANWOL), which creates awareness and provides support to formerly incarcerated women, also supports “Yes on R.” While men comprise the largest percentage of America’s jail and prison population, women are the fastest-growing population. 1.9 million women released from prison each year, many with nowhere to go. ANWOL can provide housing and services for 1/3 of what it costs Los Angeles County to incarcerate someone in jail, and believes that providing opportunities and services for women re-entering the community can create positive ripple effects. This is not only a local issue, but a national crisis.
“Women who are incarcerated are incredibly resilient and, when given the opportunity and support, they can rebuild their lives, find their voice, their meaning and their purpose,” Burton said. “The women I’m working with deserve an opportunity. Investing in women will bring about different outcomes that make our communities safer, that makes our communities healthier and that allows our communities to thrive. I see it every day. We are grateful to Coldplay for their support of our work, jail reform and re-entry in our city.”