Justin Bieber has addressed the controversy surrounding his use of Martin Luther King Jr. speeches sampled throughout his sixth studio album, Justice, which arrived on March 19th.
The samples include Martin Luther King’s “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” speech, interpolated as a prologue to album opener ‘2 Much’ — a love song about Bieber’s wife, Hailey. Whilst the album interlude, ‘MLK Interlude,’ features a speech that King gave in Atlanta in 1967. The use of the speech incited widespread criticism, with critics accusing Bieber of exploiting the civil rights movement.
On Tuesday, March 30th, Justin Bieber took to Clubhouse to elaborate on his decision to include Martin Luther King Jr. samples, acknowledging that as a Canadian, his knowledge of Black history is not up to par.
“Being Canadian,” he said via Billboard, “they didn’t teach us about Black history. It was just not a part of our education system. I think for me, coming from Canada and being uneducated and making insensitive jokes when I was a kid and being insensitive and being honestly just a part of the problem because I just didn’t know better.
“For me to have this platform to just share this raw moment of Martin Luther King in a time where he knew he was going to die for what he was standing up for.”
Bieber continued, “I want to keep growing and learning about just all social injustices and what it looks like for me to be better, what it looks like for my friends to be better. And I know I have a long way to go.”
Prior to the release of Justice, Bieber unveiled a campaign aiming to raise awareness for a number of social justice organisations including Anti Recidivism Coalition, Alexandria House, the Compton Pledge, Baby2Baby, the Equal Justice Initiative, LIFT, Self Help Graphics and Art, This Is About Humanity, the Poor People’s Campaign and the King Center.
“In honor of #Justice I’m supporting organizations that embody what justice looks like in action,” he wrote.
Bernice King, the King Center’s CEO and daughter of Martin Luther King, responded to Bieber’s support on Twitter, sharing a public message of gratitude.
“Each of us, including artists and entertainers, can do something,” she responded.
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“Thank you, @justinbieber, for your support, in honor of #Justice, of @TheKingCenter’s work and of our #BeLove campaign, which is a part of our global movement for justice.”