Memphis United has expanded its work with young people over the past month, collaborating with Theatre Memphis, and their teaching fellowship at Rhodes College. Every week, the fellowship of six young women works with a theatre class at Central High School. Memphis United has been helping to provide local context through conversations with the students about complex social justice issues that they create responses to, using movement and spoken word. At the end of the semester, the students will hold a public performance to benefit the Mid-South Peace & Justice Center’s work with youth.
In addition, Memphis United also performed a Know Your Rights Theatre workshop a diversely talented group of young people including writers, rappers, spoken word performers, dancers, and musicians that Theatre Memphis has been working with at Melrose High School. Memphis United is working with these students to help facilitate a youth led project that will produce a music and spoken word album in response to the contents of the Know Your Rights Workshops that Memphis United has performed with close to a thousand young people in the Memphis Area.
This album will highlight the talents of the students at Melrose and will include a “Know Your Rights Rap” single to bring the information in the workshops to a wider audience via social media and distribution of the album, which will also include an insert booklet spotlighting the artists, and outlining information about young people’s rights when interacting with law enforcement. The group plans to hold a showcase event to release the album along with a video for the single.
This collaboration is part of Memphis United’s overarching goal to establish grassroots networks of youth led efforts to advance peer to peer education and organizing around issues that directly affect our young people, and will segway into Memphis United’s Juvenile Justice Project, which will develop neighborhood based projects lead by young people with unfulfilled community service hours. We believe that no amount of education or empathy can equal the experiences of those most affected by an issue. They are the experts. They have the solutions. To address the issue of youth violence and crime, we have to engage with those most affected by the issue… young people.
Youth are not the problem, they are the SOLUTION!