ATLANTIC CITY, N.J.– The stars were out in full force on Saturday to support REFORM Alliance– a non-profit co-chaired by Meek Mill and Michael Rubin– in an inaugural fundraising gala that raised $24 million for criminal justice reform.
ESSENCE was in the building for the invite-only Casino Night Event at Ocean Casino Resort in Atlantic City. A dinner program hosted by Kevin Hart highlighted REFORM’s work and included a live auction, which contributed nearly $8 million to the group’s fundraising total.
The dinner crowd– full of stars ranging from REFORM Alliance founding partner Jay-Z, to Tom Brady and Gayle King– heard the moving testimony of Wallo, a renowned advocate for criminal justice reform, who pleaded with the audience to do more to change parole and probation laws in a fireside chat with Hart.
“This here is very important what we’re doing,” he said. “I want to thank everybody that’s in this room. And I’ma tell you this– go in your pocket and give more. Some of you are going to spend on things you’re going to enjoy for a moment. That s**t gonna be gone. That money that you spend for them little things, you wanna celebrate and party and all that stuff, you can change lives, thousands of lives. But if you really care…keep going in your pocket and help the people that the world forgot about.”
Wallo was arrested for armed robbery at 11 years old in 1990. Since that day, he’s been entangled in the criminal legal system, and he’s not expected to be paroled until 2048. “You’re locked up even when you’re not. There ain’t a day when I wake up and I don’t think about going back” to prison, he told Hart.
All of the proceeds from the event will go towards REFORM initiatives, which includes its lobbying “efforts to change laws, expanding its grassroots operations into more states, supporting the implementation of laws it has already passed, convening fairs, and supporting community based organizations,” a press release from REFORM Alliance stated.
A video presentation that followed featured interviews with people impacted by the supervision system and who have benefited from REFORM’s work.
The event closed out with an after party, which included surprise performances from rappers Quavo, Lil Durk, and Travis Scott.
See more of the guests who attended the black-tie event!