More than a thousand high school students from nine Connecticut cities came to New Haven on Wednesday to hear music with a message. Yale University hosted “Rap for Justice”, a concert featuring former gang members who deliver words of peace and respect.
"Y’all ready to get this show rolling? Yeah.. Let’s get it in. Y’all don’t be scared. Turn it up now..When I say 4, y’all say peace. 4Peace, 4Peace.." Booming hip hop lines filled Yale University’s Woolsey Hall as kids from New Haven, Bridgeport, Norwalk and Stamford watched… and listened.
The event was aimed at educating kids about gun violence. Much of rap music advocates a culture of guns and gangs. Rap artist Twice Thou says he hopes kids will connect with the music and positive message of his personal story. " Because I’m from the streets and I can relate to these kids. They can relate me. I mean I’m just like them. I just think my experience is a way to teach kids that you don’t want to go down the road that I went down."
To prepare for the concert, students were invited to write their own raps. Three kids were chosen to perform. 15-year old Bridgeport resident Anthony Ramos wrote about self-esteem "..how people should work hard. If you want something you should go out and get it. You shouldn’t just sit around and expect something to happen. (Why did you want to write about that) Because I go through the same thing..like I been through a lot and I look on my life and I’m like nothing’s gonna happen if I don’t work for it."
Sherry Haller, executive director of the Justice Education Center says the program did a good job of raising awareness about gun violence. "And then the challenge is to take that awareness and do something positive with it – a takeaway back in the community."
Rap for Justice was sponsored by Yale University and the US District Attorneys Office.