DENVER (KDVR) — Hip hop royalty set foot in Denver on Thursday night. Legendary rapper Master P was not using his words for lyrics — instead, he was using his words to educate Coloradans about mental health struggles in the Black community.
The 1990s entertainer took the microphone with a different flow to share his story and inspire young people and his own culture. Music is just one of Master P’s many talents; he is also an actor, father, producer, athlete and entrepreneur who is using his life experiences to lift up the Black community and shine light on some dark issues.
To the music industry he is Master P, but on Thursday night at New Hope Baptist Church, he is Percy Miller.
“It takes a village, and that village is us coming together,” Miller said.
Mayor Hancock talks mental health at Master P event
Miller was a guest speaker at the Extraordinary Speaker series hosted by Colorado branches of the NAACP. The civil rights organizations are joining forces to discuss the Black community’s experiences with mental health, education, economic inequality and environmental justice.
According to an official release, the NAACP Extraordinary Speakers Series began Thursday, Oct. 27, with a presentation on “Understanding the Blue Book.” The series goes until Thursday, Nov. 17, and includes virtual sessions on environmental justice with the Denver NAACP Environmental justice committee (Nov. 3) and “Talking About Race with Children” with Dr. Darlene Sampson and Dr. Rosemarie Allen (Nov. 17).
On Thursday evening, people of all ages packed the pews at New Hope Baptist Church for the event, which started with testimonials from NAACP representatives discussing generational trauma and mental illness, followed by words from Denver Mayor Michael Hancock.
“As a Black community we often say, ‘Baby, pray about it,'” Hancock said. “But we also know that faith without works is dead. We’ve got people and almost everyone in this room has some form of mental health challenge in our family, and we as a community have got to rise up.”
Master P shares his own mental health struggles
After his remarks, the mayor gave a warm welcome to Miller, who took the stage as the crowd cheered with applause. The entertainer discussed tackling Black mental health, something that is still a stigma in the African American community and not widely discussed.
“We don’t talk about it as Black people, we try to hide it because we feel like it’s a problem that makes us weak and it makes us vulnerable,” Miller said. “We’re losing so many lives; we’re losing so many people.”
Miller spoke from his heart and his own personal experiences. Miller’s daughter suffered from mental illness and this past May, she died from an accidental fentanyl overdose at just 29 years old. Outliving his daughter has fueled Miller’s fire in the fight, and it’s something Colorado is fighting itself. Fentanyl overdoses across the state and country have skyrocketed.
“We taking fentanyl,” Miller said. “We doing all kinds of things. We thinking this is not going to kill us. Self-medication isn’t the answer.”
Miller preached to young kids that instead of turning to substances to cope, try opening up the lines of communication and asking for help. The entertainer shared personal stories and had a hard life himself, saying he didn’t have a bed until he was in college. He said faith got him through his struggles and now he’s devoted to helping and guiding others with goals of stopping the mental health stigma and teaching economic empowerment.
“I pray for wisdom,” Miller said. “I don’t pray for money; money comes and goes. We can’t take it with us. Mental illness and substance abuse is real. How we make those changes and how we live is going to start with you.”