#Streets2016 Festival Reimagines Marquette Park

STREETS2016-53This year’s Takin’ It to the Streets festival gathered an extraordinary lineup of artists across genres and generations to provide the soundtrack for the continued Journey to Justice. First-time meetings, like that of Imam Zaid Shakir and hip-hop legend Rakim, highlighted the unique power of ‘Streets to forge bonds across differences based on a shared vision for more just, empowering community life.

The organic connection between art and activism was on full display in Marquette Park that day, as native Chicagoan and rising star Vic Mensa performed “16 Shots”, his high-energy commentary on the Laquan McDonald shooting, in the same police district where the teen was gunned down in 2014. Ms. Ilyasah Al-Shabazz, the daughter of Malcolm X, shared the stage with international pop star Yuna, rapper Brother Ali, and other talented artists and driven activists sharing their gifts and talents.

14067825_1431563090203666_5291502542206933180_o#Streets2016 was a profoundly inclusive space that represented a broad spectrum of people of all faiths, ethnicities and backgrounds. Thousands of attendees supported local businesses and artists inside the International Bazaar and at the Community Stage. Guests of all ages were inspired by the hip-hop elements and the youthful energy of the 1 LUV Family Pavilion, which included a graffiti battle highlighting the legacy of Muhammad Ali, a backpack giveaway, free haircuts and carnival rides.

Without the sweat equity of nearly 300 volunteers and the incredible commitment of the Steering Committee, #Streets2016 would not have been possible. While organizing a nationally recognized and celebrated festival, they also became deeply invested in the myriad of issues that marginalized communities face.

13920047_1398328343526929_7215458737418003622_oThanks to the artists, activists, IMAN staff, leaders, volunteers and thousands of guests, Marquette Park’s legacy added a new chapter, reimagining the narrative of a community all too often associated with conflict, and demonstrating the transformative potential of Chicago, the nation and the world.

#Streets2016 Generates Unprecedented Media Coverage

The success of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Living Memorial and #Streets2016 garnered extraordinary media coverage across the city and country.Screen Shot 2016-08-01 at 11.16.59 AM

Throughout the MLK Living Memorial development process—from the initial planning, to the ground breaking, and eventually to the ribbon cutting—TV cameras and newspaper reporters captured the project’s growth into a new cornerstone of the Marquette Park community. On August 5 alone, nearly one million Chicagoland viewers tuned into coverage of the Memorial’s unveiling and the following commemorative ceremony.

The next day, #Streets2016 kicked off with the symbolic 1,000 Mile March. Each of Chicago’s local TV news networks featured segments on the day’s events, with detailed feature stories on the web and in print. Via this comprehensive media coverage, over a half million people witnessed the events of this historic day. Social media yielded even greater engagement. The memorial, march and festival were all featured on Snapchat’s “Chicago” story that weekend, and the #Streets2016 hashtag trended on Twitter for several hours. In all, these IMAN-led efforts made over 6 million impressions across all social media platforms.

Screen Shot 2016-08-15 at 4.42.00 PMMarquette Park’s narrative legacy has endured the stains of decades-long segregation and racial discrimination. However, through these powerful efforts of a community united on the journey to justice, the story of Marquette Park is forever changed. The “world as it could be” was on full display during the August 5 weekend, as individuals, families and organizations celebrated their achievements, connected various campaigns and radically reimagined the state of their communities.

Perhaps even more powerful than the breadth of coverage the weekend received is the fact that this nationwide buzz grew organically out of a proactive series of community organizing efforts led by American Muslims and embraced by all. Like all aspects of its work, IMAN hopes that the MLK Living Memorial, the 1000 Mile March, and #Streets2016 festival will serve as models for holistic, collaborative, and positive change for other urban communities across the country.

“All praises due…” Announcing #Streets2016 Headliner

“’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.

Screen Shot 2016-05-21 at 4.46.10 AMI 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,
Brother Ali

CommUNITY Café Kicks Off IMAN Atlanta Debut

Screen Shot 2016-04-27 at 4.22.47 PMAfter 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, Screen Shot 2016-04-27 at 4.22.16 PMwhich 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.