Peter Tosh had something to say, and he wasn’t the type to mince words or beat around the bush. He used his musical gifts to advocate for social justice - a message, that like his music, carried far and still rings true decades later.
A self-taught musician, Tosh co-founded the original Wailers - one of the first bands to bring reggae music to a truly worldwide audience. While he left the Wailers in 1974, he shaped the band immeasurably - writing or co-writing early classics such as “Get Up, Stand Up” and “400 Years.” According to legend, it was he who taught his original bandmates - including Bob Marley - how to play their instruments.
Q: What is your goal?
Peter Tosh: “To promote equal rights and justice for every man.”
Setting off on his own gave him the opportunity to give full voice to his beliefs and principles, and he wasted no time in getting to the point with a string of albums that form the heart of his musical legacy, including Legalize It and Equal Rights. As much as they stretched the boundaries of reggae music, what draws us to them is the way he unapologetically sang about the injustices of the world and being accepted for who you are instead of who others want you to be. While his music reflected the positive attitude of his Rastafarian faith, he demanded change - making it clear to us that without equal rights and justice, there could be no peace.
Peter Tosh had an activist’s heart and was uncompromising in his approach - it always felt like his music was inseparable from who he was as a person. And when he spoke out, he didn’t do it from a place of comfort and safety. He knew there would be consequences, and there were - he was the frequent target of beatings by the Jamaican police, who seemed to see his words and existence as dangerous as any weapon. But that didn’t slow him down at all - he called people out by name and refused to pull punches.
And that’s a lesson that still inspires us today. That if you have a platform, you should use it to tell truths to make positive change in this world - no matter how uncomfortable it may make some people. While the world has changed in so many ways since Peter Tosh left us, we’re still fighting the same fight: for equal justice.
We couldn’t be prouder to announce a Peter Tosh collaboration t-shirt. 100% of the net profits will be split equally between the Peter Tosh Foundation and Colin Kaepernick's Know Your Rights Camp, two organizations working tirelessly to advance the causes of equal rights and justice that Tosh fought so strongly for. Tee releases 12/17 at 11AM EST.
Read more about them and the work they do below.
The Peter Tosh Foundation is dedicated to continuing to advocate for the ideals of Peter Tosh under the oversight of Niambe McIntosh, his youngest child and head of his estate. Its most urgent focus is on criminal justice and prison reform, particularly as related to marijuana offenses. Both the Foundation's mission and McIntosh’s fire for advocacy has been profoundly influenced by the plight of her brother (and Tosh’s son), Jawara McIntosh, who passed away this year after being severely beaten and permanently disabled in 2017 while serving a six-month sentence for cannabis-related charges in the United States. Learn more about their programs and how you can help here: https://petertosh.com/foundation/
Colin Kapernick's Know Your Rights Camp was first conceived as an education initiative to give Black youth the tools and knowledge to safely navigate encounters with police. Its mandate quickly expanded to cover a 10-point rights platform designed to empower its participants to thrive in multiple areas of their lives, connect with their communities, and believe in themselves. It continues to grow - for the latest and how to help, visit https://www.knowyourrightscamp.com