Monday, January 18, 2010

Protest Poetry and the Power of Voice

"Our lives begin to end
the day we become silent
about things that matter."
Painting by Graffiti Artist: Dan23

January is International Creativity Month founded by Randall Munson, an IBM executive advocate turned global creative speaker, magician, author and teacher. According to Munson, "a single creative idea can have a greater impact on the success of an organization than hard work, overtime, and cash investment combined." Three events in DC this past weekend, highlighted the power of using speech, words, and voice creatively for social and environmental justice. The first one VOICES, is featured below. The other two events will be featured this week. Sign up for our feeds if you want to know what they are.

Voices (Voices Organizing for International Change, Empowerment and Support), a monthly awareness-building/fundraiser organized by activists, record producers, social entrepreneurs, and volunteers is a true representation of DC's new "socially responsible urban flavor." According to Magee McIlvaine, a core organizer of the event, "under the radar organizations doing amazing work on the ground in Africa, mostly through hip hop" take center stage at the intimate and edgy Hilyer Art Place. International Emcees, grassroots activists and academics rub shoulders, share stories and combine resources to support and empower youth through arts. As guests sip on wine, enjoy live-rhymes and authentic Maffe made by Senegalese "Chanteur" Baay Musa, Nomadic Wax educates with short engaging documentary films on the featured organization of the evening, and the lives that change for the better.

Listen to Ben Herson, (Nomadic Wax Founder), a supporter and collaborator talk about how VOICES keeps Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King's message real:

Both the Bavubuka Foundation in Uguanda and Magamba, The Cultural Activist Network out of Zimbabwe have been featured thus far in the VOICES series. They both use music, art, and spoken word to transform the lives of youth and unify diverse communities. These grassroots organizations work in their own distinct countries rich in culture and potential yet, devastated socially and economically, due to prolonged conflict. The hope is that their example will help others worldwide.

Briggs Bomba, from Africa Action - DC, a fellow Zimbabwean, and long time supporter of Magamba, elaborates on their logo "Our Word is Our Weapon" and links it to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King's belief in the everlasting triumph of "unarmed truth."

Watch an international freestyle session at VOICES on YouTube to get inspired for next month and remember to sign up to the Citizen Inspired Blog Feed to hear about other people, organizations and events linking creativity + communication for global change.

You want to Contact, Collaborate, Donate?
VOICES-DC core organizer; Magee McIlvaine;
Founder of the Bavubuka Foundation: Babaluku Smith (Sila);
Head of Magamba, The Cultural Activist Network: Comrade Fatso;

In honor of the greatest orator of US history, Civil Rights Leader, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King and his struggle to end racial prejudice in the United States. May this serve as proof that youth around the world continue the struggle for fair living with "dignity and discipline."