Who says the protest song is dead?
Certainly not Sidewalk Chalk, an eight-piece, Chicago-based band who meld together hip-hop, soul and jazz and are set to release their third album, titled “Shoulder Season,” next month.
For the band’s second music video off their upcoming album, Sidewalk Chalk matched up their emotionally-charged new song “Them, Us” with footage from a December protest where artists, including members of the band, took over the city’s Red Line train with a rush-hour demonstration drawing attention to America's racial divide in light of recent incidents of police violence. The video was shot and directed by fellow Chicagoan David Burkart and was released Monday.
Charlie Coffeen, the band’s leader and keyboardist who also helped organize the “Train Takeover” protest, told HuffPost via e-mail that half the band’s members experience racial profiling on a daily basis, which prompted them to speak out. Coffeen himself was arrested while protesting in Ferguson, Missouri, in August.
As the band's MC, Rico Sisney, explained, the inspiration for the song “came from a need for connection and empathy in our world, a need that is as strong now as it was in the ‘60s.”
“It is painful to focus on the casualties of inequality in this country and abroad, but that focus presents an opportunity if it is viewed in the correct light,” Sisney said. “Once we stop talking about systemic issues and the victims of hatred, we allow some the freedom to ignore that which makes them uncomfortable, and deny others the opportunity to crack this thing open, take it apart, and build something better.”