Universal Music Group Launches Youth Task Force in Honor of Civil Rights Pioneer John Lewis

Universal Music Group logo.
Courtesy of UMG

Universal Music Group logo.

Universal Music Group (UMG) has established the Youth Task Force for Meaningful Change (YTFMC), paying homage to recently deceased civil rights pioneer and U.S. Rep. John Lewis. The new initiative is an offshoot of the music company’s social justice and equality-focused Task Force for Meaningful Change (TFMC) that launched globally June 4 and is co-chaired by UMG executive vp, general counsel and Def Jam interim chairman and CEO Jeff Harleston and Motown Records president and Capitol Music Group executive vp Ethiopia Habtemariam.

As outlined in a staff memo obtained by Billboard, the 24-member YTFMC is comprised of “dedicated, entry-level employees” ranging from UMG’s °1824 -- a division of student employees from various college campuses, working in creative and marketing roles -- to employees representing the company’s labels and brands across territories including the U.K. and Africa. In tandem with its global parent, YTFMC will share its insights on addressing equality, diversity, inclusion and social justice issues across the company, the music community and society at large.

“John Lewis monitored the original youth task force,” Habtemariam tells Billboard, referencing Lewis’ chairmanship of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in the early ’60s. “And everyone knows who’s really on the front lines of leading the charge and making change, not only in this country but around the world. We want to make sure the young voices across UMG have the opportunity to share their feelings and give us their perspective, insights and guidance.”

YFTMC is chaired by °1824 member Chelsea Hannah, who conceived the idea of a youth-targeted initiative and presented it to TFMC’s Harleston and Habtemariam. YFTMC’s executive advisory team includes Capitol Music Group executive vp Brian Nolan, Verve vp marketing Chonita Floyd and Island Records senior director of A&R Jermi Thomas.

UMG is also paying tribute to Lewis’ lifelong fight for economic justice, criminal justice reform and fair housing with a second initiative. TFMC announced concurrently that it’s contributing to the following organizations: Give Directly (national); Modest Needs (national); City Bar Justice Center (New York); Housing Crisis Center (Dallas); Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles; Project Home (Philadelphia); Safe Haven Family Shelter (Nashville); SEARCH Homeless Houston; Star C Eviction Relief (Atlanta) and United Community Housing Coalition (Detroit). This is in addition to supporting Black Lives Matter, Black Mental Health Alliance, Colin Kaepernick Foundation, When We All Vote and other organizations announced when TFMC was initially established.

Aid/charitable and global are two of the six areas of focus TFMC announced in June, which also include internal/institutional change, legislative/public policy, entrepreneurial partnerships and programming/curation. Habtemariam notes “there will be more to share in the next month” on those fronts.

UMG Youth Task Force for Meaningful Change members:

Chelsea Hannah (°1824) – Chair
Niya Fleming (Def Jam)
Jessamine Clavero (Motown)
Allison McAdoo (°1824)
Brandon Weston (°1824)
David Grannum (°1824)
Dejanay Caldwell (°1824)
Jalen Boxley (UMG)
James June (CMG)
Jordan Martin (Motown)
Jorden Durkee (°1824)
Kadijat Salawudeen (°1824)
Kaylen Simmons (Interscope)
Kgomotso Mokobi (UMG South Africa)
Mikobi N’Dala (°1824)
Monique Teclemariam (Interscope)
Mohammed Kamara (UMe)
Sammi Ryan (°1824)
Simran Ghooi (UMG)
Stephanie Adamu (UMG Nigeria)
Tia Lewis (CMG U.K.)
Tristan Magloire (Republic)
Walter Bloxton (°1824)
Yemi Faleti (°1824)

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