MINNEAPOLIS — A Hamline University professor and activist received a big shout out from Grammy Award-winning artist John Legend.
Jason Sole was recognized as a change-making activist.
Sole, the former Minneapolis NAACP President, will be awarded $10,000 by Legend's Can't Just Preach initiative, which shines the spotlight on community leaders who are changing the world.
Legend used his social media platforms – Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, to spotlight the Humanize My Hoodie movement by telling more than 20 million people to learn about Sole's organization and donate.
Sole, said he knows words carry weight. His push to de-stigmatize clothing trends associated with black and indigenous people of color all started as an experiment in 2017. But his test led to a big discovery.
“These three words on a hoodie are making people stop and say, "'Humanize my Hoodie' and they wrestle with it,” he said. “I teach criminal justice. I am in the Criminal Justice and Forensic Science Department at Hamline. “Humanize My Hoodie is a movement. September 9, 2017, I had this idea of teaching my students with a hoodie on for the entire semester.”
Now, the world is his classroom after capturing the attention of Legend.
Sole will be awarded $10,000 by Legend's Can't Just Preach initiative, which shines the spotlight on community leaders who are changing the world.
“I am grateful that he can see my efforts and my talents and want people to contribute to my success,” Sole said. “I (wore) a hoodie all semester hoping my students can get over their bias of black men in hoodies, before they get their badge before they get their gun.”
Success didn't come overnight.
“I got shot up in St. Paul in 1998. Everybody was counting me out,” he said. “I got rods and screws in my leg. I got shot up with a 40 caliber, that is not a small tool.”
He spent five years in prison. And now, this criminal justice professor uses fashion to de-stigmatize clothing.
“Hoodies are relaxing for me, but If a white person sees me in my hoodie they might think I am going to rob them or try to hurt them,” he said. “I am trying to deconstruct those beliefs about us.”
The hooded sweatshirt has become a symbol of assumptions in America. Trayvon Martin was wearing "a dark hoodie” and seen as a “suspicious guy."
That's what George Zimmerman told the 911 dispatcher before he shot and killed the 17-year-old. Sole says the Humanize My Hoodie movement also pays homage to innocent victims like Trayvon Martin.
“We really hope we don’t have to wear these hoodies in another two years,” he said.