Beyonce and Jay-Z have received a public offer to back an intriguing gun buyback program.
The program, Guns for Greatness, is the idea of Family Tree Entertainment Head and hip-hop mogul Michael “Blue” Williams.
A millionaire and one time manager of OutKast and Cee-Lo Green, Williams has a bold plan to rid NYC’s streets of firearms by encouraging young gun-owners to trade in their weapons for work placements in the record industry and tickets to Beyonce’s upcoming world tour.
William has already pitched what would be the city’s first private sector gun exchange program to NYPD officials and is waiting for Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly to sign off on the scheme.
Speaking to the New York Daily News, Kelly said:
“We want to get as many guns off the streets, and if this works, we’d like to support it,” although he added that the finer points if the program needed more study.
Over to Williams, the motivated mogul declared:
“The Beyonce show is coming to Brooklyn, the Jay-Z show is coming to Yankee Stadium. Our goal is to reach out to individuals who are in my industry, in my world and who I have an association with, and get their support. I think we should all work together to help get guns off the streets.”
Recently confirmed to headline the UK’s V Festival in August, Beyonce begins her world tour The Mrs Carter Show in April before a final date at Brooklyn’s Barclay Center on August 4. Her husband, Jay-Z, recently announced a joint tour with Justin Timberlake, and will play the Yankee stadium in July.
Williams is hoping he can persuade both Jay-Z and Beyonce into the guns-for tickets deal once he gets Kelly’s go-ahead. If all goes to plan, says Williams, the launch date for Guns for Greatness would be on March 23 at a local church. So far, he has raised $75,000 for the program and wants to boost that figure to $100,000.
In a written proposal sent to Kelly on Friday, Williams wrote:
“This program aims to provide young people with an opportunity to receive guidance and inspiration from committed mentors, an important option that will enable them to experience possibilities other than a life surrounded by gun violence and unnecessary shootings and killings.”
The letter was co-signed by Richard Buery, president and CEO of the Children’s Aid Society, L.Londell McMillan, publisher of The Source magazine, and former federal prosecutor Kenneth Thomson. Radio station Hot 97, the International House of Pancakes and several record labels have also signed on to the Guns for Greatness program.
While it remains to be seen whether Jay-Z and Beyonce will give their support to William’s initiative, singer and activist Harry Belafonte recently blasted high profile black celebrities for not doing more to address gun violence.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, at the recent NAACP awards, Belafonte told the audience:
“The river of blood that floods the streets of this nation flow mostly from black children,” before calling on the black community to do something, saying “our children” are waiting.
“I think one of the great abuses of this modern time is that we should have had such high profile artists, powerful celebrities, but they have turned their back on social responsibility.”
“That goes for Jay-Z and Beyonce, for example. Give me Bruce Springsteen, and now you’re talking. I really thing he is black.”
Beyonce’s representatives have since released a statement citing the singer’s many charitable performances and work with various disaster fundraisers, her charity The survivor Foundation, a community outreach facility the singer established in downtown Houston, and her work with UNICEF.
Meanwhile, Jay-Z, campaigned vigorously for President Barack Obama during his first election campaigned, and co-hosted a New York fundraiser last year for his re-election.