By KYLER SUMTER
Hyde Park resident Bruce Kelly held the second annual “Stop the Violence Ninja Showcase” on July 24, at Richard J. Daley Center, 50 W. Washington St.
The showcase was hosted by Kelly and produced by George Ivey. The purpose of the showcase is to “promote anti-violence among youth and give them something else to do instead,” Kelly said in a previous Herald article.
The theme for the event was focused on stopping gang violence and focusing on peace in Chicago.
The showcase featured Gospel singer Elishama Tekoa, the youth dance group Rising Stars, youth rap artists Pari, Jigga, and Tha Twinz, rap artist NDPNDNT, youth song and dance crew Trend N Topic and more.
“Music is something that moves everybody, music soothes the soul,” Kelly said. “Kids nowadays respond better to music than they do to school.”
Kelly believes it’s important for children to have opportunities to showcase their artistic talents. This is why he hosts this showcase, to give young artists a chance to come out and participate.
“When music and platforms for them to showcase their talents are available I think they would respond to that more so than picking up a gun,” Kelly said.
Ivey kicked off the showcase with a call to action.
“We need to build up our character,” he said, “and turn Chiraq back into Chicago.”
Up first was Tekoa performing her song “Prayer of Change”. She wrote the song to show people the power of prayer and action in spite of violence. She previously worked at the Altgeld Gardens Homes, one of the Chicago Housing Authority’s public housing projects. While there she came into contact with many kids who were heading towards the wrong path.
“They would get suspended from school, they would come into where I work and I would have conversations with them and when they said ‘People are coming for me, I don’t know any other way to respond’ I would say you do have multiple ways that you can respond,” Tekoa said. “It takes more strength to be quiet and ignore a person than react to what they’re doing.”
Chicago rapper NDPNDNT (Independent) performed two songs that uplifted the crowd of around 40 people; one focusing on what it feels like to lose someone and to lose yourself and the second focusing on the divide between lighter skinned and darker skinned black people.
Trend N Topic, a young song/dance crew from Madison, Wis., performed songs about police brutality, following your dreams, staying in school, and believing in yourself.
The two singers of the group felt that the showcase and events like it are important to reaching young people.
“It shows that you can have something to occupy your time, you don’t have to be in the streets,” 17-year-old Ryaah aka Wild Child said. “There are positive things you can do out here.”
Krystyn aka K-Star said she believes kids receive positive messages better when they are given from someone their age.
“They’ll take it better from people that are going through the same thing they’re going through,” the 16-year-old performer said.
Kelly and his family have lived in Hyde Park for nearly 40 years, he attended King College Prep High School and his brother Robert [R. Kelly] attended Kenwood Academy High School.
“It’s really a shame that day after day I hear about people that I know personally getting shot, getting killed and senselessly,” Kelly said. “I know we all have to go some day, I’m not afraid to die I’m afraid of getting killed.”
The crowd listened intently to all of the performers, and many passersby stopped to check out the show.
Thelma Ali of Wrigleyville hadn’t planned on attending the showcase, she just happened to be at the Daley Center when everything started, she even skipped her meditation class to stay and watch the performances. She felt that the cause was an important one for young people to pay attention to.
“A lot of young people don’t attend to what’s going on in the world. They use the internet but they need to start attending to these meetings so they can know exactly what’s being planned and when it’s going to take place,” Ali said. “This electronic thing came out of the human mind so you should never not connect with human beings.”
Ali said she was devastated by the violence in the city and felt like those committing the violence should seek help.
“In order to get some help you have to realize you have a problem,” she said. “I don’t believe a person in their right mind could just go out and commit all this violence.”
Next year, Kelly hopes that the showcase reaches even more young people.
“I hope this showcase reaches people to the point where they want to come out and participate in our showcases and the show itself,” he said. “I just hope it reaches who we’re trying to reach.”