Darren "King D" Seals was a St. Louis activist and rapper, focused on the issues of racial justice, police brutality, and gun violence. He was one of the first people to hit the streets in Ferguson, where he struggled tirelessly to enact change, and became quite close with Mike Brown's family. He was not a fan of the intersectional approach to social justice organizing, feeling that it diluted the focus of what his community was fighting for (and the irony inherent in us putting this benefit together in his honor is assuredly not lost on us). In particular, he was quite vocal in his distaste for Black Lives Matter (the organization, not the sentiment) and other groups and individuals from outside the St. Louis area participating in our local protests, as he viewed them as diverting attention and resources from the people actually living in the affected area, who would ultimately be left behind unsupported when the outsiders went back home or on to the next opportunity for publicity. This narrative of his went largely unexamined by many at the time; but as the dust slowly settles in St. Louis, it is becoming increasingly clear that this is a topic that truly does deserve ongoing consideration. Darren also frequently employed inflammatory, intolerant, and derogatory rhetoric when railing against these adversaries. We are not here to condone, or condemn, or parse the things he said for you, that's not why we are doing this. The man had no problem speaking for himself, there are plenty of videos, interviews, and articles you can peruse to educate yourself on his beliefs and come to your own conclusions, and we encourage you to do so.
We are doing this to pay tribute to Darren's legacy, his courage and tenacity, and willingness to put his time, energy, and body on the line to enact change and help those suffering in his community. We are doing this to help keep attention and pressure on the search for answers as to what happened to him. On September 6, 2016, Darren Seals was found murdered (some say "assassinated" or "martyred" are more accurate characterizations), having been shot in the head and left in a burning car. Darren was the sixth black man in the St. Louis area to meet that same fate in a two year period. The state of the crime scene when a vigil was held there the next day made it apparent that the law enforcement investigation could not be counted on to be more than a farce, a cruel joke on his friends and family, as well as everyone living in St. Louis in these turbulent times. No one deserves what happened to King D. He deserves justice, and we all deserve answers. Never forget Darren Seals. Never forget what he stood for. Never forget his dignity and worth as a human being, and his selflessness as an agent for change. Never forget how they did him dirty in the end.
100% of the proceeds from sales of this compilation go to Hands Up United, the grassroots community organization that Darren Seals co-founded during the Ferguson uprising. Hands Up United "is a collective of politically engaged minds building towards the liberation of oppressed Black, Brown and poor people through education, art, civil disobedience, advocacy and agriculture". HUU continues to do vital work in the community, making a significant difference in peoples' lives with its Youth Tech Institute program, its influential Books and Breakfast program (currently being emulated in over 30 cities nationally), and the People's Pantry food drop program, along with several other education, discussion, and support programs. For more information, please visit www.handsupunited.org
and any support you can give them is greatly appreciated.