On the average day in Newark, New Jersey, the corner of Clinton and Bergen Streets is a war zone, a violent hotbed. The heat comes from the bullets that sometimes whiz by, and from the block being "hot" from the drug trade and the police's (overly) watchful eye. But then there's one day each year on that same corner that is anything but average.
24 HRS Of Peace is Hip-Hop's offering to a world where young people have an opportunity to truly discover their individual intrinsic value to self and their connection to community. To that end, the Hip-Hop Culture's core ethos of "peace, love, unity and safely having fun" is the back drop for the 5th annual gathering we produce each year with Newark Mayor Ras Baraka.
The Baraka name comes with a legacy of strength and action. 24 HRS Of Peace is privileged to have his support as a tool to address the rising tides of violence within the nation and our city.
I believe that Hip-Hop is the perfect solution to many of the ills we see in our community. It fosters self expression, it engages using culturally relevant content, and it provides the environment where young people optimistically take part - where self-expression and resources thrive, violence cannot. Hip-Hop, over the last 30 years, has become an economic force, and many of the skills associated with Hip-Hop are transferable to other areas of life and business.
Creativity has always the key to our economic upliftment as people of color. DJ skills opens the door to audio engineering, stage production, etc., with some DJs in 2015 consulting million dollar companies. A love for graffiti arts opens doors to all kinds of professions where an artistic eye and canvas are involved. The emcee is not just an emcee anymore, and the likes of Jay-Z and 50 Cent show and prove the point that we wield vast economic power and potential. Hip/Hop can be used to identify skill sets that naturally flow from the person...even those who don't possess a college degree or opportunities afforded to the masses.
But what we sometimes lack is structure. 24 HRS Of Peace is structured to do this work in a very specific way. The annual concert is only one part of our mission. The most important feature of our work is the aftercare, the year-round work of our partners that is showcased in order to inform the community, as we engage and entertain during the concert.
It's our work, in coordination with Mayor Baraka, across different platforms that makes 24 HRS Of Peace an important initiative to support. Our partners for this year's event are GrassROOTS Community Foundation (co-led by Roots emcee Black Thought), 211 Community Impact, and Giant Thinking. My mission, with the help of these and many others, is to improve the lives of young people in Newark and beyond.
So, 24 HRS Of Peace is more than giving back - it's my vision and Hip-Hop's intentional effort to stop the violence by celebrating our unity and our power. 24 HRS Of Peace is my offering, within my ability, to bring about change in my own corner of the world. Now I ask...Hip-Hop, what will the rest of you do?
Hakim Green of Channel Live is an emcee, activist, educator, and the founder of Newark's 24 HRS Of Peace. Join him on Friday, August 28 at 6PM until Saturday, August 29 at 6PM for 24 HRS Of Peace 2015 (Clinton & Bergen Streets, Newark, NJ)