St. Louis rapper Nelly has been putting his celebrity to great use behind the scenes in Ferguson.

Nelly spoke last year about moving forward with plans to establish a scholarship program in honor of 18-year-old Mike Brown, who was unlawfully gunned down by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson while unarmed in August of 2014, and now his plans are being put into action. Hello Beautiful recently caught up with Nelly just after the 1-year anniversary of Mike Brown’s death early last month to talk about how the scholarship program came to life, the backlash he’s received for “not doing enough,” and the impact he hopes it will have on the community.

“I try to do it through education because that’s the only way we’re going to get it. The only way we’re going to get this is to elevate.  We have to get the kids to go out of these communities. Graduate. Get the knowledge. Come back to the community, and then they can run it because they understand the people and understand the severity of the situation.”

“It’s not about the hoo-ha.  It’s about the silent assassins. It’s the ones that move behind the scenes that get things done. The guy that’s screaming on television, he’s the diversion. I’m not a diversion. I’m going to get it done.”

Mike Brown’s parents are also involved in the selection process of each scholarship recipient and in addition to Nelly’s financial backing, other celebrities including T.I. and Kevin Hart have also donated.

Black celebrities (musicians in particular) have long been criticized for their lack of public support for the Black Lives Matter movement and other social issues affecting the Black community, so while Nelly is absolutely correct that the focus should be more on the cause than the person pushing the cause, it’s great to see him publicly speaking out to let people known what he’s doing to use his platform as a vehicle for good.

Photo Credit: Getty

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