Barack Obama celebrated the music, life and legacy of Nipsey Hussle in an open letter, which Karen Civil shared on Twitter and read at a memorial service in Los Angeles Thursday. The rapper was shot and killed outside his clothing store March 31st.
In the letter, Obama said that though he’d never met Nipsey Hussle, his daughters had introduced him to some of the rapper’s music. In the wake of his death, Obama added, he had learned more about Nipsey Hussle’s tireless efforts to lift up his community in Los Angeles.
“While most folks look at the Crenshaw neighborhood where he grew up and see only gangs, bullets and despair, Nipsey saw potential,” Obama said. “He saw hope. He saw a community that, even through its flaws, taught him to always keep going. His choice to invest in that community rather than ignore it — to build a skills training center and a cowering space in Crenshaw; to lift up the Eritrean-American community; to set an example for young people to follow — is a legacy worthy of celebration.”
— Karen Civil (@KarenCivil) April 11, 2019
The memorial service for Nipsey Hussle is being held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Per CBS, the speakers include Nipsey Hussle’s mother and father, Snoop Dogg and Isaiah Thomas, while Jhene Aiko and Anthony Hamilton are set to perform.
Nipsey Hussle — real name Ermis Asghedom — was a fierce proponent of entrepreneurship, from the way he dealt with record labels to the various businesses he owned in Los Angeles that hired members of the community as employees. Along with the co-working space mentioned in Obama’s letter, he also opened a STEM center to help black Los Angeles residents break into the tech industry.
The primary suspect in Asghedom’s death, Eric Holder, was arrested last week and has been charged with charged with murder, two counts of attempted murder and one count of possession of a firearm by a felon. He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.