Last week, Rolling Stone shared exclusive day-in-the-life video of four young freedom fighters from Ferguson, Missouri – Ashley Yates, co-creator of Millennial Activists United; T-Dubb-O and Tef Poe, both local hip-hop artists; and Tory Russell, cofounder of Hands Up United – as they visited New York to share their harrowing stories from the frontlines. While they were in the city, Yates, T-Dubb-O and Tef Poe, as well as video activist Bassem Masri, stopped by the Rolling Stone office for a no-holds-barred interview.
The four protestors pointed out that Michael Brown's death at the hands of police officer Darren Wilson was not an isolated incident, but rather part of a pattern of systemic violence that threatens their lives and those of their friends and family on a daily basis. "We're not vying for political capital. We're not vying for a political position in the world to, say, let us vote, or let us have this," Yates explains in the video. "What we're vying for is actually our lives. So our level of commitment is what you would do to fight for your life."
That level of commitment becomes particularly apparent when T-Dubb-O launches into an impassioned rant on the subject of black celebrities who, he believes, are standing by silent. "We got all these black athletes, black rappers, all these one-percents, record label owners, CEOs that's not saying nothing, that's not bringing nothing to the community. You're bleeding the community dry," he says. "The shoes we buy, the clothes we buy, the music we play, the videos we watch. You glorify being from the hood but do nothing for it. You glorify being from the trenches but do nothing for it. When they killing us, you stand by silent. When you have this platform...we don't have a Rolling Stone in St. Louis we can go to. You get invited to these interviews daily, and you quiet. You quiet. You still on your tours, you still dropping your bullshit records that nobody believe. The streets don't believe you."
"Yeah, we're calling America to the table," Yates adds. "We're calling America to stand up and be the country that it says it is."