Friday, July 19, 2024


Finish the Marathon

In life and death, Nipsey Hussle laid a blueprint for how we can change communities from within.

Mourners pay respect to Nipsey Hussle in front of his Marathon store.

Nipsey Hussle and his mom Angelique Smith

It was March 31 when rap star Nipsey Hussle was shot dead outside his Marathon Clothing store in the Hyde Park section of South Los Angeles. That day that will always be remembered for the overwhelming reaction to the tragedy, which sent shockwaves through Black communities across America and the world.

Born Ermias Asghedom, the 33-year-old was a gifted musician — but he touched lives well beyond his natural ability to fuse lyrics, beats, and moods into a sound that captured the complex spirit of a community. A committed change agent, Nipsey invested strategically in real estate and used his influence to create new opportunities in the neighborhood that raised him — fostering a culture of economic self-reliance, creativity, technological innovation and visionary thinking that sought to lift up everyone.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Nipsey once said that his music was partly about how to succeed as a young black entrepreneur. “In our culture, there’s a narrative that says, ‘Follow the athletes, follow the entertainers,” he told the Los Angeles Times last year. “And that’s cool, but there should be something that says, ‘Follow Elon Musk; follow (Mark) Zuckerberg.” He hoped to provide a “bridge … between Silicon Valley and the inner city,” as he put it in a video last year.

Even as, in death, he will forever be a symbol of the senseless violence that lingers in our inner cities, Nipsey’s success also provides a roadmap to an ethos that other entrepreneurs can emulate: an unbreakable mission to hustle each day — not just for what “you” want, but what “we” need.

Thousands gathered in communities around the country, including Historic West Las Vegas, to mourn Nipsey’s passing — because what he did to help his own L.A. community exemplified dreams for every “hood.”

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