On Thursday, February 14, 2013, the “V” in V-Day didn’t just stand for Valentine’s; it stood for change. One Billion Rising, a global initiative, chose the day of love to take a stand against domestic violence.
Project Hip-Hop, an organization based out of Roxbury that works with young hip hop artists to challenge the community to think about social justice issues, put together a flash mob at the Prudential Center and shared in the movement.
What began as a force against racism and inequality in 1993, Project Hip-Hop has grown into an influential, youth-led organization that strives to educate and end all injustices through the art of dance.
“The art has the ability to make people stop, to make them think, and to do it in a way that really challenges the notions that they have in their head,” says Mariama White-Hammond, the executive director of Project Hip-Hop.
The dance, held in the open area between the food court and Saks Fifth Avenue, started with a couple sharing a dance and ended with the male throwing his partner to the ground. She was then surrounded by a group of fellow dancers who helped lift her back to her feet and changed the dance to one of joy and celebration.
Many young men participated in the event and were happy to be a part of the conversation. “If they [men] don’t see violence against women as a problem, then we can never solve it… so it’s really important that young men get involved,” White-Hammond said.
Dashawn Alexander, 20 years old, was heavily involved with the flash mob and is speaking up for his mother. “My mom is a strong woman. What women have to go through is wrong, that’s why I try to raise awareness. It’s time for a change. You can’t hide what’s going on, especially when we put together projects like this,” Alexander exclaims.
Many young people came out to show their support and carry black signs with bold red lettering declaring, “RISE.” Members of the City School, whom often support youth events in the community, came out and brought a crowd to be apart of the action. Ruby Messier, 18 years old, and Jordan Freundlich, 17 years old, feel it’s important to support events like this. “The City School celebrates and builds youth leaders in our neighborhoods. We love coming out to events like this and meeting everyone,” says Messier.
Though the flash mob was successful in gathering a large crowd of onlookers, it didn’t exactly go off without a hitch. Due to lack of permits, three Prudential security guards approached White-Hammond asking that she shut the flash mob down. However, by the time they finished their discussion, the event was over.
You can find more information about Project Hip-Hop on their website, www.projecthiphop.org.