Barack Obama wrote a tribute to Nipsey Hussle that was read by hip-hop executive Karen Civil during the late rapper’s memorial service at Staples Center in Los Angeles today. The reading came after a moving performance by singer Marsha Ambrosius, who sang Mariah Carey’s “Fly Like a Bird.” Obama’s speech follows in full:
Dear Friends and Family of Nipsey:
I’d never met Nipsey Hussle, but I’d heard some of his music through my daughters, and after his passing, I had the chance to learn more about his transformation and his community work.
While most folks look at the Crenshaw neighborhood where he grew up and see only gangs, bullets and despair, Nipsey saw potential. He saw hope. He saw a community that, even though its flaws, taught him to always keep going. His choice to invest in that community rather than ignore it — to build a skills-training center and a coworking space in Crenshaw; to lift up the Eritrean-American community; to set an example for young people to follow — is a legacy worthy of celebration. I hope his memory inspires more work in Crenshaw and communities like it.
Michelle and I send our sympathies to Lauren, Emani, Kross and the entire Asghedom family and to all those who loved Nipsey.
— Karen Civil (@KarenCivil) April 11, 2019