John Legend on creating content that’s unapologetically Black

ABC News explores the racial reckoning occurring across the U.S. with John Legend, who talks about his song “Never Break,” his production company Get Lifted and using art to spark change.
6:11 | 03/03/21

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Transcript for John Legend on creating content that’s unapologetically Black
When we talk about reckoning -- we can't do the reckoning without doing a real assessment of what American history has been. America promised all these ideals, but black people were like, hey, what about us? You told us it was about equality. You told us that all men and women were created equal. You told us we had equal protection under the law. But you didn't fulfill that promise. And we are evidence of that. Black people have been saying that for centuries. We shall overcome Reporter: There have been generations singing about it, songs like "We shall overcome" for just as long. John legend is no exception. One day when the glory comes Reporter: Using anthems like "Glory" that he cowrote for the film "Selma" to connect art and activism. For him, it's about storytelling. From his hit single "Ordinary people" to the intimate ball lat "All of me." Cause all of me loves all of you Reporter: He aims to connect with his audience and connect them to each other. I love art because art helps us envision a new world. It helps us become closer to each other. Helps us see each other's humanity. It's been a tough year for so many people. I think it's been a mental health challenge, it's been a physical health challenge, it's been an economic challenge, and it's been felt even more in the black community than it has been in many other communities. No justice, no peace! With George Floyd's death and so many other things that happened, was your heart breaking? What were you thinking? At first I was just mad and grieving. I hate this repeated story that is so much a part of black Americans' experience. I want it to stop. So we contributed to bail funds. Then I tried to be a part of a conversation in the country where we talked about what we do to do better. We spent far too much on law enforcement, on jails on prisons. And black people have been bearing the brunt of that. When you were growing up, were you thinking all the time like, I'm going to make the world a better place, I'm going to change things? You did? I did think this. I wrote an essay about it when I was 15. I said, I'm going to be a successful musician, I'm going to use that success and fame and acclaim to make my community better. And it was informed by the artist that I loved. Stevie wonder, Marvin Gaye, Nina Simone, Aretha frankly. It was informed by the activists I've been reading about since I was a kid. They were my superheroes, and I wanted to live a life that was impactful like they did. Reporter: The message of impact can be found in his film company, get lifted, and the stories he and producing partner Mike Jackson have shared. Their diverse content highlights the creative and creators that are unapologetically black. We want to elevate certain craters that may have been overlooked. I never met no man that meant nobody no good. Reporter: Their documentary "Giving voice" follows students from across the country, like Chicago native Mia sarfo, as they compete in the August Wilson monologue competition. I don't trust another. Theater can really transform. I mean really. I felt like people were seeing me for the first time. It was just a remarkable opportunity for them and for us to be able to produce this film, tell their story. It was a magical opportunity. I also got to write a song for it, a song called "Never break," a song about human resilience and the power of love to get us through all the challenges that we face in our lives. So I wrote this song in 2019. And then everybody knows what 2020 brought. It brought so many challenges to the world, then it brought challenges to my own family. We lost a baby. It was the most traumatic experience my wife and I have had to go through together. That was a time when that song "Never break" really meant the most to me. Because we've never been tested like that. She never had been tested like that. And we had to be there for each other, our love had to be there there for each other, for us to survive that challenge. I think we've come out even stronger than ever. Do you know how brave you are for sharing that? Chrissy's the brave one. She's the one that felt like she had to tell this story. She wanted to share this experience with other people, because she knew other women have been through this same thing, and she wanted to let them know she was there for them, she understood their pain. And the outpouring of love and, oh, I've been through this too, and empathy that we got from people has been staggering, honestly. I'm always a little more private than she is. By nature. But her instinct was right, to tell this story, because it helped a lot of other families who have gone through it to know that they're not alone and they're seen. But it also helped us. It's not a community that you want to be a part of. But once you know that that community exists and you become a part of it, through your own experience, your own tragedy, it's helpful to know other people are out there. What motivates you resilient? I feel so fortunate. I get to do what I love to do every single day. I get to write songs for a living. I have fun when I go to work. It's not easy to write a song, but I truly get joy from it. I also keep going because I feel like I have an opportunity to bring more love and more beauty and more joy into this world. And given that opportunity, given the platform that I have, I don't want to waste it. Our thanks to Adrienne. Now a programming note. The second episode of the ABC news series "Soul of the nation" airs next Tuesday evening, 10/9 central, only on ABC.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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