She may have won 15 Grammys for her music, but video of Alicia Keys' "Families Belong Together" March speech proves that her voice is even more powerful when speaking out about causes close to her heart. Taking the mic at the Washington, D.C. immigration rally on Saturday, June 30, Keys first introduced herself as a mother, in a clip posted by CNN. What followed was an impassioned speech and rallying cry:
"My seven-year-old son is here with me today. His name is Egypt. And I couldn't even imagine not being able to find him. I couldn't even imagine being separated from him or scared about how he is being treated, so this is all of our fight, because if it can happen to any child, it can happen to my child and your child and all of our children."
The marches and rallies which took place in major cities all over the United States were held to protest the Trump administration's polarizing "zero-tolerance" immigration policy, under which children of immigrants and asylum seekers have been separated from their parents. The "Girl on Fire" singer went on to read the heartbreaking words of one such mother whose son is currently being held in a Portland, Oregon immigration detention center, as posted by CNN.
"I had spent nights without sleep, searching and searching for my son, not knowing where he was, a torture day by day," Keys read from a letter in which the mother wrote she'd been promised for several months she'd be reunited with her son and even bought him Christmas presents. All those gifts remain wrapped, leaving the woman with feelings of "deep sorrow" every time she sees them and wishing officials would at least let her see her son "if only for a little while."
Continued the passage from "Margarita" (her name was changed for privacy reasons), who said she's endured home checks and endless paperwork: "What mother would not want to have her son in her arms, if only for one moment?"
As seen in a video posted from the "Families Belong Together" March's official Twitter account, Keys later left the crowd chanting "we're not backing down" and shared some final thoughts:
"Our democracy is at stake. Our humanity is at stake. We are out here to save the soul of our nation. We need all the children reunited to their parents. We demand to end the zero humanity policy. We need to save the Supreme Court and we need to vote, because when we vote, we win."
Showing one of the many reasons the cause means so much to her as a mother, Keys shared a sweet photo with her son Egypt on Instagram, writing, "I couldn’t imagine you ever being taken from me... #familesbelongtogether #MotherSon #Love #children #Priceless #nomuslimban #endzerotolerance #savethesupremecourt #VOTE"
Other celebrities lead the charge at Washington D.C.'s march, including an emotional America Ferrera, who noted her Honduran heritage in a passionate speech and also read a letter from a man who "is fighting to be reunited with his granddaughter."
Meanwhile, Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda sang a lullaby for parents separated from their children and vowed "not to stop until they can sing them to their kids again." Miranda also tweeted a photo of himself with Ferrera, Keys and Egypt with the hashtag #FamiiesBelongTogether.
The cause of immigrant rights is one that Keys has long championed. Back in 2016, she honored World Refugee Day by starring in the short film Let Me In as an American mother fleeing with her children from a war-torn Los Angeles to Mexico.
“I want us all to imagine if we were the refugees, if we were the ones torn from the arms of our families and loved ones,” Keys, whose song, “Hallelujah,” was featured in the 12-minute film, wrote in a statement, according to MTV. "While some seek to stoke the flames of division and turn us against our fellow neighbors, we’re here to make the case for love and compassion. How would we feel if it were happening to us?”
She and husband Swizz Beatz have both made it a point to set that example for their son Egypt. At this year's Grammy Awards, Swizz Beatz made a political fashion statement in support of DREAMers, wearing a red jacket Ricardo Seco jacket emblazoned with a quote from 19th-century Mexican president Benito Juarez: “Entre los individuos como entre las naciones el respeto al derecho ajeno es la paz. (Between individuals and between nations, respect for the rights of others is peace).”
The music producer also posted his reaction to video of Rachel Maddow’s tearful breakdown while reporting on the immigrant policy, from his Instagram account on June 20, writing: "Time out what is really going on‼️‼️ ... We better get focus this is real!!!!! If you have kids you understand this is not cool! Can’t lie this made me cry as I’m looking at my kids ... If you vibe with Trump don’t ever talk to me I don’t care who you are ‼️‼️‼️"
While Americans remain starkly divided over the current immigrant separations, videos of speeches, such as the one given by Keys at the "Families Belong Together" March, clearly show that emotions continue to run high for those fighting for the cause.