Spoken word artists Imagine Englewood If . . .

April 5, 2012 3:34:30 PM PDT
Young people in Englewood hope to spread a message of peace within their neighborhood- and through all of Chicago.

"I hit 71st street and I got scared. I packed my bags and turned my back on Englewood, told myself I would never come back to Englewood. As a matter of fact I gave up hope on Englewood, the place where every person wish a person would," Jazzy Thomas, spoken artist, says during rehearsal. "They be trigger happy, but peace comes in all different shapes and forms so I'm standing here in this shape trying to perform, peace for you."

"Capital control is control of the capital so it shouldn't surprise me that armchair revolutionaries have picked up his image without picking up his cause," Steven Rahman, spoken word artist, said.

Thomas and Rahman are rehearsing for a Saturday performance they hope reaches a full house.

"Since I was born and raised in Englewood and it was about peace I was like I definitely want to speak up on this because I am tired of the killing, just not in Englewood, just all over Chicago," Jazzy Thomas, spoken word artists.

"I've seen some of the things that can happen when people are not concerned about the people around them, are more concerned about what they need, what they want. What I hope to do with my poetry is to pose a question, something to make you think about what you're doing," Rahman said.

While these artists are polishing up their acts, others are working on their advertising campaign ? using facebook to promote their upcoming youth summit.

"We feel that this is an opportunity, a rare opportunity for young people to speak up against the violence in Englewood in a safe and secure environment. So we're using the medium of positive rap and spoken word as a way for them to get their message across about reducing violence," Joanna Brown-El, Imagine Englewood If.

The youth-lead campaign called Pocket Change 4 Youth is an initiative of the non-profit organization Imagine Englewood If. It is primarily funded by the Illinois Violence Prevention Authority.

"We also have homework and tutoring help. We also do a lot of field trips so young people can get out of the neighborhood and see another part of the world and it transforms their lives," Brown-El said.

One child at a time, the group hopes their efforts will ripple through the community and inspire other youth toward positive change.

The Open Mic Youth Summit takes place on Saturday from 1 to 4 p.m. Find out more at imagineengelewoodif.org.