Rapper Meek Mill has become strongly associated with his home city of Philadelphia over the last few years. When the Philadelphia Eagles won the Super Bowl last year, they took the field to his song “Dreams and Nightmares.” Now, the city has officially honored the rapper by declaring March 15-17 “Meek Mill Weekend,” per The Philadelphia Inquirer.
The timing has to do with Mill performing two concerts at the Met this Friday and Saturday, but the occasion is also meant to highlight everything the rapper has been doing to push for criminal justice reform, in his city and elsewhere. Born Robert Rihmeek Williams, Mill was sentenced to a two-year jail term in November 2017 over parole violations, which meant he was incarcerated when the Eagles won the Super Bowl. Fans and others horrified by what they saw as the injustice of his incarceration started the #FreeMeek movement. He was released in April 2018 by special order of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania after the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office raised questions about the conduct of both the judge and the arresting officers in Mill’s case.
Since his release, Mill has made a point of saying that his experience is not unique, and that many other black Americans get a raw deal in this country’s criminal justice system. In January, he co-founded the Reform Alliance alongside Jay-Z and Philadelphia 76ers owner Michael Rubin. The organization plans to fight for changes to the kinds of harsh parole laws that landed Mill in jail.
“Our foundation is focusing on probation and parole,” Mill told the Inquirer and other Philadelphia media after the city hall event. “That was the biggest obstacle that always stopped me in my life. … You have kids that might make a mistake and get on probation. Smoke a joint and you might end up in the penitentiary for three years getting raised by a felon … [This honor] is not a call-out for people to do crimes and not go to jail,” Mill said. “This is a call-out for people to get a fair chance. And that’s what I’m here fighting for.”