Philadelphia Eagles player Malcolm Jenkins will bring a former inmate and convicted murderer to the Super Bowl Feb.4, claiming he wants to make a point about reforming juvenile sentencing.
Kempis Songster was just a teenager when he was sentenced to life in prison in 1988 for murdering someone in a Philadelphia crack house. Songster became a symbol of the fight against life sentences for juveniles until the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the practice unconstitutional in 2015. Jenkins has used his position in the NFL to become a justice activist and Songster, now 45, struck him as a good way to make a statement after spending 30 years in prison, the New York Daily News reported Thursday.
“Once I got the opportunity to get those tickets through the Man of the Year, he was the first person that popped in my mind,” Jenkins told reporters. “I know normally, people give those to kids or people who may be sick or who are well deserving, but I wanted to have an example that sometimes we can think outside the box and we can listen and hear from one another, so what better platform than the Super Bowl to show those examples?”
“Because he’s someone I’m going to lean on for insight of what’s going on, who has been through the process, knows what’s going on, how people are being affected,” Jenkins said. “Those are the voices I want to amplify when we talk about trying to change it. You have to be able to engage and Kempis is a great example of that.”
Jenkins was a leading member of the Players’ Coalition, which negotiated an $89 million donation from the NFL to support social justice causes. The league will pay the sum over seven years, focusing on issues important to African-American communities. Specifically, 25 percent of funds will go to the United Negro College Fund, 25 percent to Dream Corps and 50 percent to the Players Coalition to be donated as it sees fit.
Jenkins was a finalist for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award for his work on social activism. He met Songster in 2017 when he visited Graterford Prison with the goal of educating himself about the justice system. His finalist spot earned him two tickets to the Super Bowl, one of which went to Songster. Jenkins has not announced who will get the second.
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