In a city lacking events focused on youth exercising social justice, The Ready4Change Social Justice Conference hopes to combine hip-hop, African culture and activism.
Organized by The Teen Leadership Council at the Goodman Community Center, the free conference happening on Friday April, 26, includes a song competition, all-style dance-off, talk by guest speaker Brandi Grayson, performances and a home-cooked meal.
“Especially for teenagers, there is not a ton of opportunities for teens to get together and hear hip-hop and learn about African culture,” said Art Richardson, high school program coordinator at the Goodman Community Center. “We want our young people to believe in themselves, to be proud of who they are, and we want them having positive interactions with each other. We want them to celebrate and have fun. In Madison that doesn’t happen enough.”
Intellasound Productions, a large audio-visual equipment supplier in Madison, is setting up a professional stage and sound equipment for the youth performing in the song competition. Ages 11-20 are welcome to participate and organizers encourage individuals or groups to rap, sing or perform spoken word on unity, fighting racism, stereotypes, poverty and other social injustices. Top prize for the first place winner is $500.
You can also see performances by Drumpower, a youth leadership program that provides hands on training for young people on the cultural and historical significance of West African, Afro-Brazilian and Afro-Cuban drum skills. Don’t miss the breakout session where audience members can participate in a “making beats,” where teens make beats with their hands rather than a computer.
Brandi Grayson is the headline speaker, a well known Black community organizer and activist whose work revolves around police brutality, racial justice and economic justice. She co-founded the Young Gifted and Black Coalition and serves as the director of Urban Triage.
“She is a powerhouse in standing up for equality in Madison with all the disparities that we have,” said Richardson. “Her being a Black woman doing the things she does, she has paid her dues and we wanted to honor her. And allow her to speak to the youth because she has been on the front-line in advocating for poor people, people of color and for young people.”
Families from Gambia, Senegal and Burkina Faso, whose children participate in Goodman Center programs, volunteered to cook African-style meals. The meal will be provided in the new Brassworks Building where the middle school and high school youth programs take place.
“[This event] is an opportunity for the community to support young people in learning about social justice and learning about Africa,” said Richardson. Ready4Change Social Justice Conference is free and takes place on Friday, April 26 at the Goodman Community Brassworks Building, 214 Waubesa St. from 3-10 p.m. Click here for more information. https://www.goodmancenter.org/events/ready4change