Kelli Jackson Brings a Change to the Star-Spangled Banner for July 4th


Chida Rebecca | Editor-in-Chief

This July 4th is hitting a little different than most other ones, and rightfully so. The death of George Floyd, coupled with the deaths of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless others, has further spawned an outcry that has been muffled against injustice for decades. Among those speaking out expressing a need for change is 15-year-old Kelli Jackson, of Generation Z.

A local musician, Jackson, is a skilled violinist, playing since the age of 5. When her father, Shalimar Jackson, sent her a video of someone covering the song “A Change Is Gonna Come,” by Sam Cooke, young Kelli thought she’d take a shot at it with her rendition. “After playing around with the song, I thought it would be cool to add in the Star-Spangled Banner somewhere in the song since I would be releasing the video on YouTube on the Fourth of July. My mom helped me merge the two songs, and soon I had made the audio.”

Through the video, Kelli is hopeful that her generation will come together and create change. “I hope that as a whole, Gen Z can put their differences aside and not only try to make America a better place, but also the world.” She also indicated that while we’re amid a pandemic, she’s hopeful that in addition to staying safe, people can use this time to become more educated on what’s happening worldwide – discovering ways to create change. “Technology is such a huge part of my generation. We can use it to get the word out on how to abolish inequality and inform others on different issues.”

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Even though Kelli’s clarion call is for Generation Z, she wants the older generation to understand that there’s still more work. “The country still has a long way to go to make it a country with equal opportunities for everyone. I feel as though sometimes the older generations can be blinded by the negative aspects of America, and I want my video to bring light to those situations and for the older generation to try and help my generation create change.”

And to those who aren’t African American, Kelli says, “Use [your] privilege to help all of us create justice for all… try and understand and learn about the inequality Black people and other minorities experience before [saying] it doesn’t exist.