“’All praises due to Allah and that’s a blessing.’ This line from the legendary Eric B & Rakim track “Move the Crowd” stands out like a glimmering minaret in the annals of Hip-Hop.
I remember asking, who is this Allah to whom Rakim gives the entire credit for his excellence, and how do I get some of this in my life? He stood in the video in front of a crowd donning a kufi, seemingly teaching them how to unlock their inner Rakim. I’ve been trying to do so ever since.
As the competitive spirit of Hip-Hop evolved into the dance, art and innovative DJing of Rap, Rakim–a small-framed, monotone-voiced teenager with the most intricate, intelligent and smooth rhymes ever heard–became the undisputed poet laureate of Hip-Hop’s golden era. Rakim’s cool emanated from a spirituality that was at his very core. As a kid, back then, struggling to find my voice and honor my story, Rakim emboldened me to be a person of integrity.
So it’s a profound honor for me to announce that Rakim will headline IMAN’s 2016 Takin’ It to the Streets Festival & Summit. This is even more powerful in a year when activists and artists from across the country will converge on Chicago’s Marquette Park on Saturday, August 6 to commemorate Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Chicago Freedom Movement’s historic march into that same park exactly 50 years earlier.
You don’t want to miss this event. See you in the front row.”
Peace and Love,
After months of preparation and planning, IMAN Atlanta hosted CommUNITY Café: 1000 Mile Journey on April 23, its debut event. A caravan of staff and leaders from Chicago hit the road and took to the skies to support this landmark effort, which was led by ATL Regional Organizer Mansoor Sabree and Ny’imah Byrd. Café guests were treated to a stellar lineup of local, national and international artists; rapper-producer Oddisee headlined the event, Omar Offendum delivered stirring and focused lyrics, independent songstress Drea D’Nur softened hearts with her powerful voice, while Quadir Lateef’s high-octane set provided the perfect opening. CommUNITY Café: 1000 Mile Journey was hosted by poet-authors Basheer Jones and Tasleem Jamila.
While certainly a success in and of itself, CommUNITY Café: 1000 Mile Journey was part of a larger weekend program spearheaded by the IMAN Atlanta team. Greening Youth, a Georgia-based sustainability foundation, hosted an inspiring Young Leaders Forum at their four-acre location on the city’s West Side. Youth from Chicago were able to tour the expansive garden site, which included a chicken coop and aquaponics system, and exchange valuable tips with peers. Omar Offendum, Drea D’Nur and Quadir Lateef joined the IMAN youth for the tour.
Before heading back to Chicago, staff and leaders visited the historic King Center in downtown Atlanta. The group reflected on the legacy of King’s work and connected the IMAN-led MLK Living Memorial Project to this nationally recognized space of remembrance.
IMAN Atlanta now looks to build on the incredible momentum following April’s CommUNITY Café. Stay tuned for the latest news and updates by following IMAN Atlanta on Facebook.
Led by Regional Organizer Mansoor Sabree, the IMAN Atlanta Project gained significant traction in all aspects of its mission this past month, from aligning with local legislators on pressing social justice issues to setting the stage for April’s first-ever CommUNITY Café in Atlanta.
In early March, Sabree traveled to the Georgia State Capitol as a part of the Georgia Justice Project’s annual Lobby Day. Upholding IMAN’s commitment to criminal justice reform, he drummed up support for Georgia Senate Bill 367, which is designed to remove barriers to employment that employment that impede the reintegration of the formerly incarcerated into society. The IMAN Atlanta team stays in close contact with the Chicago headquarters in order to align with its efforts to pass the Removing Invisible Bars Bill (Illinois SB 2282), which is focused on substantial parole reform measures.
IMAN Atlanta supporter base was significantly deepened after Sabree and IMAN Executive Director Rami Nashashibi attended the Organization of Pakistani Entrepreneurs (OPEN) quarterly breakfast gathering. They shared IMAN Atlanta’s vision and achievements, thereby strengthening important networks and relationships. Sabree and Nashashibi also took advantage of their time together to visit like-minded organizations and potential partners like Greening Youth.
Be sure to mark your calendars for Saturday, April 23rd, which will be the first CommUNITY Café held in Atlanta. CommUNITY Café: 1000 Mile Journey is headlined by Washington, D.C.-area rapper Oddisee, and will be the IMAN Atlanta Project’s entrée into the storied Georgia arts community. Follow IMAN Atlanta on Facebook for the latest news and updates!
This past Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, local families, activists and elected officials came together for IMAN’s annual MLK Commemorative Luncheon.
Volunteers of all ages spent the afternoon serving catered meals to community residents while 16th Ward Alderwoman Toni Foulkes and 17th Ward Alderman David Moore shared reflections on the legacy of Dr. King’s work in Chicago. After enjoying good food and great company, guests were given a special tour of the site where the historic Martin Luther King Jr. Living Memorial is being constructed.
Several of Chicago’s major media outlets—including CBS, NBC, ABC and the Chicago Tribune—also visited the Memorial workspace. Reporters interviewed IMAN staff and leaders who are playing pivotal roles in the development of the Memorial, as well as artists from the Chicago Public Art Group while they were working to refine the Memorial’s design.
The MLK Living Memorial is a monumental, collaborative effort towards enshrining a crucial moment in this city’s history: Dr. King’s participation in the Chicago Fair Housing Movement. While recognizing the historic importance of that campaign—which led to the historic 1966 Marquette Park March—the project will also energize and inspire communities across the city and country to remember King’s message and continue to work for genuine social justice.
The Memorial will be unveiled as a part of IMAN’s special Takin’ It to the Streets Festival & Summit on August 6, 2016. For more information about the Martin Luther King, Jr. Living Memorial, stay connected to the official project website: www.mlkmemorialchicago.org