J. Cole pledged to donate $10,000 to Baltimore organization Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle, as a part of NFL player Colin Kaepernick's million dollar pledge.
J. Cole pledged to donate $10,000 to Baltimore organization Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle, as a part of NFL player Colin Kaepernick's million dollar pledge. (Ulysses Muñoz / Baltimore Sun)

Hip-hop artist J. Cole has pledged $10,000 to Baltimore grassroots organization Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle as a part of NFL player Colin Kaepernick’s Million Dollar Pledge to charity.

Kaepernick, a free agent who formerly played for the San Francisco 49ers and became known for his national anthem protests, announced Cole’s donation on social media Friday as a part of his “#10for10” challenge. His friends and other notable individuals are donating $10,000 or more to underserved communities — a reboot of an initiative Kaepernick launched as part of his recently completed pledge to donate $1 million to charity.


Adam Jackson, CEO and co-founder of the LBS, said he found out about Cole’s donation on Friday after he received an Instagram notification from Kaepernick, who had donated $25,000 to the organization in 2017.

“I completely freaked out. I was like ‘What?!’,” said Jackson, who helped co-found the organization in 2010 in attempts to change political discourse through education, advocacy and community organizing.

Jackson said he hasn’t heard anything from J. Cole directly, but said the promised money will help the organization become more sustainable and continue their political advocacy throughout the year. The group’s agenda includes aiming to stop certain crime bills proposed by the Hogan administration and continuing its efforts on bail reform.

Jackson said Kaepernick’s $25,000 donation helped the organization assist and provide food for the LBS summer camp, which equips local students with the tools and skills to advocate for certain political issues. The program launched as a policy debate camp in 2013, but soon evolved to help foster political advocates and organizers.

When Jackson received a call about the donation from Kaepernick’s manager, “I thought this was a prank call or someone messing with me,” he said. But he looked up the manager’s name, and found that a similar situation had happened to someone else.

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After giving his contact information, Jackson said he received a check from Kaepernick within two weeks.

“It felt really authentic and genuine,” Jackson said, especially in the world of celebrity, where some put out fancy press releases or information out online to build their social profile.

“It seemed like he consulted with people” and found the best match for his donation, Jackson said.

He emphasized that the most helpful thing black celebrities or black people with influence and wealth can do is to fund advocacy efforts that help and work on behalf of the black community.

“It doesn't have to be a bunch of intermediaries. You can reach out to them directly, and encourage others to do the same,” Jackson added.

“I think everybody should do it if they have enough resources to do it.”