Asheru was born Gabriel Benn in Washington, DC. As a youth, he developed a liking for the hip hop musical genre. He listened to a wide range of the art form, from the hard verses of NWA to the more positive lyrics of Native Tongues. This music greatly influenced him to become a hip hop artist. He memorized all his favorite songs by writing them in a notebook he often carried. In college, he made friends with people who had a similar fervor for hip hop. When he graduated, a friend from school named Wes Jackson, started his own independent hip hop record label called “Seven Heads Entertainment.” In 1996, the band, Unspoken Heard, founded by Asheru and Wes’s brother Robert Jackson (also known as Blue Black) signed with the label. Since then, Asheru has released numerous albums and has traveled the world with artist such as Jill Scott and Mos Def (Yasiin). Ahseru is perhaps known most for writing the theme song to the popular Adult Swim show, The Boondocks. Continue Reading
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On Saturday, July 21, 2012, Multi Media Training Institute live streamed Queen Afi’s “Domestic Violence Wears Many Tags” program at Studio W. With the help of MMTI’s staff, interns and students of the Summer Workers 2012, the webcast was a success! The staff supervised the students, but overall the interns and students set-up the studio and contributed as videographers, writers, audio technicians and live stream engineers.
Domestic violence has an effect on us personally or on someone we know. Often, whenever the topic is discussed, people can relate whether its a man on woman, a woman on man, or a teen on teen situation. Louisa Solomon, the intern Producer of the show, says she has friends who have been victims of abusive relationships and has heard many stories about it. “I feel the show is very important and serves a great purpose,” said Solomon.
Queen Afi founded “Domestic Violence Wears Many Tags (DVWMT)” in 2009. Its purpose is to help men, women and teens through the struggle of domestic violence if they are the victim or the abuser. DVWMT offers workshops for men and women to talk about their problems, causes, situations and resolutions. Everyone should speak and be heard so that the violence will not happen again, or you can help another person with your voice being heard. DVWMT brings prevention, awareness and education to the people who do not know where to turn or feel there is not a solution. “You don’t have to be silent about it, and if you are hurt there is always some type of comfort,” says Afi.
Great people came out to support the organization for the live streaming, and guest speakers encouragingly spread their knowledge about domestic violence.
Raymond Bell from “The Hope Project” was the first guest speaker. He is the Founder and administrator of the 2009 self funded “Helping Other People Excel” in DC for ages 18-23.“This movement was started to change the lives of young people not just to gain employment,” says Bell, “but to help them become world class IT professionals, be financially stable and independent.” Bell knows that if young people are introduced to the right opportunity, then they will want to be engaged and change whatever circumstances they are in to make their lives better.” It bothers him to see the youth struggle, “If you do some things that are worthwhile and have an impact,” says Bell, “people will find out about you.”
The second guest was Yuma “Dr. Yew” Bellomee, a holistic, wellness advocate, service provider and consultant. Dr. Yew works with families and facilitates workshops to teach about health and wellness. Dr. Yew discussee how the spirit, body, mind and environment effects us and how it can lead to domestic violence. “Many reasons why men don’t express their emotions is because they may feel vulnerable,” says Dr. Yew, “and they don’t want to feel ashamed as if it’s not man like.” A lot of men were not taught how to communicate as young boys, so when they become men they verbally and physically abuse women because they are frustrated and angry.” Dr. Yew coaches how to build self esteem and be confident. “Better ourselves individually first then we can help our community,” said Dr. Yew.
The only female guest on the show, Tyrieshia “Babygirl” Douglas, a 23-year old professional female boxer born and raised from the southside of DC. has experienced a lot since she was 10 years old. Growing up in the foster care system, she has been molested, her parents were on drugs and between all of that, she was angry as a young girl. A victim of physical abuse, Babygirl says domestic violence is something the people should be aware of and know how to talk about.. Boxing since the age of 16, she realized it was something that really helped her to vent and relieve stress.. Babygirl mentions when people ask her if she wants to get back at the people who hurt her, “I tell them no, because it won’t solve anything.
She has matured to know that she is not the only one in the world with problems. Babygirl is also the first female boxer to try out for the Olympic Games but she wants people to know her story and be inspired because “you can overcome anything,” said Babygirl.
Not only did the show share a positive message about domestic violence but during the breaks it gave De’Andre Walters, 10 year old spoken word artist and Jay, a 13 year old self-taught drummer,a chance to show off their skills. Jay, entertained the audience with his talent. De’Andre says he wants to change the world with his poetry.
Malika Walters, a supporter of DVWMT came with her son De’Andre and says he wants to show other kids that there are more creative things in this world, and there is more to do than the bad things kids see and hear everyday. “You don’t have to follow behind what you see,” says Ms. Walters, “if they [kids] do good things they can make a change and be inspired.” Ms. Walters says she is very proud of her son.
The director of the show, Shawn Jones, Senior Video Instructor at MMTI, says, “I haven’t directed in along time but was happy to be apart of the show.” He believes domestic violence is something that is not often talked about until a situation occurs. “I hope the show helped someone in the world who is going through their problems,” said Jones, “and finds some type of mediation to resolve anything they were or are still facing.”
I felt this domestic violence program Queen Afi brought to us felt was needed. Not only did it teach us how to get out of abusive relationships but it gave insight on how to become better people mentally and physically.
Contributed by: Haneefah Edwards, MMTI SYEP 2012 returning participant
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The Multi-Media Training Institute’s (MMTI), Summer Youth Employment 2012 Program organized an interview of Larry Rubin at its Studio W location for their documentary about the Civil Rights Movement. Rubin spoke on his experiences as an activist with the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). MMTI’s goal to procure valuable information from Rubin became very essential to the documentary.
The aspiring summer workers asked questions ranging from Rubin’s Civil Rights experiences to reasons behind his actions as a SNCC participant.
Coming out of Philadelphia, Rubin described his parents’ influence, “I was born with my heart and soul dedicated to social change.” In an attempt to make this social change, he joined SNCC as a voter registration worker. He was first located in Georgia encouraging, mainly African-Americans, to vote. Along with voting, Rubin helped organize boycotts and began some union organizing activities.
Sometime later, he moved his work to Mississippi where African-Americans were disfranchised by a state constitution, established in 1890. Understanding the constitution was part of a literacy test required to pass in order to vote. According to Rubin, “The state constitution of Mississippi didn’t make sense anyway.” Even so, African-Americans that tried to vote could lose their job, be beaten or killed. There was little protection except for the faith of the people themselves.
Northerners and the world became aware of the racial opprestion in the South.
In a response to quell the Civil Rights uprising, state authorities began developing their own plans.
While Rubin was in SNCC, white citizens threw bottles and objects at him, and he was jailed by the police. At one point, Rubin’s picture was printed in local newspapers. He was labeled a Communist and the whole SNCC operation was described as a Communist act. This led Rubin to be a very notorious person and a target of numerous civilians and Ku Klux Klan (KKK) members. But, Rubin was not the only victim. “People didn’t give their lives for freedom. Their lives were taken for freedom,” said Rubin.
On June 21, 1964, three Civil Rights workers, James Chaney, a 21-year old African-American man from Meridian, Mississippi; Andrew Goodman, a 20-year old Jewish anthropologist; and Micheal Schwerner, a 24-year old Jewish C.O.R.E organizer, were killed by several confirmed KKK members. Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner were incarcerated by a deputy of Neshoba County and were released to the custody of the Klan late one night. Of the three victims, Rubin knew Schwerner well, and stated that Schwerner was not involved with voting registration but owned a daycare with his wife and helped people with day to day tribulations.
“One person cannot change things. One person working with others can change things. That is the lesson of the Civil Rights Movement,” said Rubin. All things considered, great losses were suffered during the Civil Rights Movement but it lead to greater benefits for generations to come.
As for Rubin, he continued to help enrich societies across America. He held several public service oriented jobs including four terms on the Maryland City Council, was a communications and political director for the Mid-Atlantic Regional Council of Carpenters. Rubin now resides in Takoma Park, MD and continues to share his experiences as a Civil Rights activist with future generations.
Having an interview and interacting with Larry Rubin brought great wisdom to the students and instructors of MMTI. The students all agreed they gained a larger perspective of the Civil Rights Movement and their attributes toward the documentary were enhanced.
We converged on a new idea: What is the modern Civil Rights Movement? How is it being constructed? Support MMTI to help raise awareness!Read More »
Frank Smith is a Civil Rights activist and politician in Washington, DC. Born on a plantation in Newnan, Georgia, Smith feels he has been blessed to live through a revolution which he feels began with the Civil Rights Movement.
He attended Morehouse College where he developed his appetite for activism and participated in many marches. In his freshman year of college, Smith was arrested for sitting in a Georgia diner where he was denied service. This incident encouraged a desire to help people. Smith and his friends worked with other students to establish the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC ) which worked to change segregation in the South. SNCC’s organization was dedicated to getting African-American people to register to vote, as well as integrate schools, restaurants and any other place where there was segregation. SNCC was dedicated to the people and their contribution and commitment helped better society.
Deep in the south, ”law and custom” was something whites went by when they felt it was necessary to punish African-Americans for things done, “out of their place.” Whites felt locking up blacks was not enough so they would lynch the African-Americans. Smith, just like many other activists in the South, was beaten and locked up in his pursuit for equal rights. John Seigenthaler, Ernest “Rip” Patton and US Rep. John Lewis were three men who were not apart of SNCC, but played a central roll in the Freedom Riders Movement. They have all spoken on many occasions over the past 50 years about how they and others were severely beaten or thrown in jail because of their activism. The Freedom Riders were Civil Rights activists who, in 1961 chose ‘to ride interstate buses into the south to confront state laws and customs enforcing segregation.”
In a blog written by PBS Journalist, Judy Woodruff, she describes the violent mobs and possible brushes with death Seigenthaler, Patton and Lewis experienced on the buses, as did Frank Smith and members of SNCC experienced with whites and the police in the south. In the blog Lewis says, “Take up your pens, write about what is wrong.” He also said “Today’s younger generation is too quiet,.” and encourages them to “Speak up” where they see injustice.
Lewis’ fellow Freedom Rider “Rip” Patton encouraged students to ask themselves, “What are you willing to do for future generations?” Patton also said, “We did what we did for your generation.What sacrifices are you willing to make?”
Just as Smith made sacrifices for a better society, it would have never been possible if he did not have a group of people who were willing to make changes with him. Smith says to this generation, “America will respond to pressure from organized groups…which means in order to see change, you have to form alliances.”
Without the vision from Smith and every other person who made a difference with the Civil Rights Movement, America would not see the changes here today. While participating in the movement, Smith also developed an interest in contributions by African American soldiers in the Civil War and began his study and research. Working in Georgia, Mississippi and Washington, DC, he did not know his contributions and dedication for Civil Rights would later turn into a passion for developing a memorial to honor of African Americans who fought in the Civil War.
Hari Jones is the Assistant Director and Curator at the African-American Civil War Museum. Jones speaks about how over the years African-Americans have been misled and lied to in our history books, schools and films. He revealed how extensive and well-organized the African America soldiers and community were in efforts to end slavery. The museum gives us knowledge about how African-Americans worked hard to free themselves, and the exhibit and Jones’ presentation tell the story of how the United States Colored Troops fought for their freedom during the Civil War.
Frank Smith’s message to younger generations is “…get an education. Without it you won’t get far in America.” Also, he reminded us that if we have a vision and a dream, never give up, fight for what you know is right and fight for what you believe in. “No one knows where your ideas and contributions can lead to in the future,” said Smith.
Contributed by: Haneefah Edwards, Summer Youth Employment 2012
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