An online community dedicated to truth and reconciliation, Common CEO Mark Eckhardt launched One Million Truths on April 26. On that same day, he published an article on Time where he laid out his personal experience growing up as a Black man in America. Eckhardt hopes that his story will be the first of one million video testimonies that shine a light on the ongoing struggle with racism.
Variety spoke with Eckhardt about the events in his life that led to him creating One Million Truths, getting celebrities to support his mission and how anyone can become an ally by promoting the platform.
How far back did you begin thinking about creating a platform like One Million Truths?
The origins go back to 2017. It was in that year, for whatever reason, I suddenly found myself being stopped and chased in my neighborhood in Encino, Calif. I had people rolling down their windows as they were driving by and yelling the N-word at me, telling me that I didn’t belong in the neighborhood. One gentleman threatened to kill me, and so on and so forth. These very painful experiences prompted me to reach out to other friends of color, and they were experiencing a similar spike too. Those cumulative experiences stuck with me and I kept monitoring the tone of race and racial tension in America.
What prompted you to go ahead and create this project?
On Martin Luther King Day in 2020, I wrote a Facebook post that went viral. It was one part acknowledgement of the work of the civil rights leaders from the ’50s and ’60s and an account of my experiences with racism. It was the disbelief and the shock of people who were not Black, who I’ve either known from my childhood or been working with for decades, that led me to believe and conclude that we had a problem even bigger than I’d imagined at that point. The thing that actually made it all come together was the succession of murders and what culminated with Mr. George Floyd. I woke up on the second night of the protests and I just had this idea for One Million Truths. I didn’t know what it would be or what it could become but I got on the phone the next morning and started talking to people and sharing the idea.
You received a lot of really good support from a bunch of celebrities and well-known people. How did you get them to stand behind your project?
It has not been difficult at all. It’s the right idea at the right time for the right reasons. Dianna Bari has been very effective in reaching out in the right ways and inviting people to consider being part of it. Folks are just saying yes, from Sterling K. Brown to Debbie Allen to Yvette Nicole Brown to NFL Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith. It’s been mind-blowing to see the doors that have opened and the people that have said yes so far.
When you reach your goal of obtaining one million truths, what are the next steps after that?
When you have this many people focused on the same thing, we’re going to learn a lot. There’s going to be a lot of insights that we’re going to garner from all of these stories. We’ll be able to take that and stand up new projects that are going to benefit the community. Maybe we’ll be focused on generational wealth or injustice or police brutality. I would also like to get to the point where we have enough insight that we can inform public policy, and put information in the hands of people who are in leadership positions and influence the decisions that are made.
Is there anything you would like to tell the readers at home?
I just want to double down on the invitation to Black Americans to share their truth and submit their truth on our platform. For anybody who’s really interested in being an ally, respond to those videos on the website. For anybody who’s very early in exploring and beginning to understand and engage on this issue, the platform is a safe space to do that. It’s just getting familiar with what’s really going on in our country.
This interview has been edited and condensed.