Philadelphia’s hometown rapper Meek Mill brought his message of criminal justice reform to City Hall Thursday.
And City Council responded by honoring Mill with a proclamation designating Friday through Sunday as Meek Mill Weekend.
During a presentation ceremony before the City Council meeting, Councilman Kenyatta Johnson said Mill has “stepped up and taken his advocacy to the next level to make sure our justice system is just and fair for everyone.”
The City Council resolution honored Mill for his triumphs as a chart-topping hip-hop songwriter, his philanthropic efforts and his use of his celebrity to generate awareness of inequities in the criminal justice system.
State Sen. Sharif Street, D-3, also presented Mill with a congratulatory resolution from the state Senate.
“We’re acknowledging today not just a man who had personal success but a man who had personal success that never forgot where he came from,” the state senator said.
Mill, who grew up in North Philadelphia, decried drug laws that overwhelmingly burden Blacks and people of color with prison sentences and criminal records.
“I don’t want my son growing up in a world — a place where if he decided to use marijuana one time, he could spend two or three years in a state penitentiary raised by people he don’t know,” Mill said as he stood beside his 7-year-old son, Rihmeek Williams, and others.
The 31-year-old recording artist said he wants to use his platform to bring about a more equitable criminal justice system. That’s why he’s collaborating with hip-hop icon Jay-Z on Reform Alliance, a criminal justice reform coalition dedicated to raising funds to get people out of jail.
“This is not a call out for people to do crime and not go to jail,” he said. “It’s a call out to give people who actually come up under different circumstances a fair shot in America.”
Mill is no stranger to those circumstances.
Mill, whose real name is Robert Rihmeek Williams, was sent to a state prison in Chester County in 2017 for minor violations of his probation conditions in a decade-old gun and drug possession case. He spent months in prison before a court ordered that he be released.
Mill’s imprisonment made him a symbol for criminal justice reform activists. Celebrities weighed in on the high-profile case. Jay-Z wrote a New York Times opinion piece pointing to Mill as an example of how the criminal justice system “stalks” Black people.
Twitter users created the #FreeMeekMill movement online. And community members held rallies to call for Mill’s freedom.
Michael Rubin, co-owner of the Philadelphia 76ers who has supported Mill during and his court battles in recent years, said at the Thursday ceremony that Mill’s experience in the criminal justice system opened his own eyes “to a world that I didn’t believe existed.”
“I didn’t think this stuff really happened,” Rubin said. “I didn’t believe you could go to prison for not committing a crime.”
Since his release, Mill has actively called for criminal justice reform.
He also has given back to the Philadelphia community through school supply and toy give-aways. He partnered with the city last year to renovate the basketball courts at 33rd and Oxford streets.
Mill gave a subtle shout-out to Philadelphia-based fashion designer Milan Rouge during the ceremony Thursday when he wore a gray sweatshirt with the designer’s brand name written on it, Milano di Rouge. The streetwear is manufactured in the city and Los Angeles.
Mill is scheduled to perform Friday and Saturday at the Met Philadelphia.