In this highly volatile politically charged era Pharell Williams has been tapped to write an essay entitled the new american revolution — visions of a black future that fulfill a nation’s promise for TIME’s magazine’s aug. 31-sept. 7 issue. The magazine issue features a series of conversations and essays that discuss creating a more equitable future for black americans.

‘america was founded on a dream of a land where all men were created equal, that contained the promise of liberty and justice for all,’ says pharrell williams on his essay ‘pharrell williams: america’s past and present are racist. we deserve a black future. ‘but all has never meant Black people. like most Black Americans, I understand that all exists only in the augmented-reality goggles available to shareholders, power brokers and those lucky enough to get in on the initial public offering. but the ongoing protests for equity and accountability that have overtaken cities across the nation have made me feel something new that I can only describe with one word: american.’

created under the artistic direction of victor williams, TIME international art director, the cover sees 23-year-old artist nneka jones create her first artwork for the magazine — an american flag embroidered on a white canvas representing the current state of the country. the flag, rendered in black and white, fades into color ‘reflecting the fact that moving toward a “brighter future” is ongoing work.’ ‘every time she pushes the needle through the canvas, it’s an act of intention that mirrors the marching, the protests, the push to form a more perfect union,’ TIME’s williams comments. ‘it’s deliberate. it’s painstaking. it’s long. it’s hard. each one of those stitches is a single person’s story, a single person’s travails. that’s why we wanted to make the stitches visible.’

for the issue, pharrell williams invited ‘some of the most qualified people in every field — from angela davis to tyler, the creator, to representative barbara lee.’ in the essays, these leaders and creatives discuss ways to move forward, conveying a vision of the future that can fulfill the promise of the country’s principles.amid so much injury, how do we begin to heal?’ continues pharrell. ‘given this country’s inescapable legacy, I wondered if it was even possible to convince people that—even if we cannot escape it—we can overcome our past. but if we are ever to hold this nation accountable, we must force it to construct a future that offers us the same opportunities for wealth, prosperity and success as the ground-floor profiteers who built an empire with our free labor.’

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