*Over the weekend at West Angeles COGIC Church in Los Angeles, high school students from all over Southern California, community members and parents poured into the church’s North campus for the launch of Black Minds Matter initiative with a live concert of what celebrity drummer Laval Belle likes to call Gospel Jazz.
The initiative kicked off with a youth voter registration at Charles R. Drew University Medical Center in partnership with the Los Angeles Branch of the NAACP. The celebration ended with a night of blended decades of music and scholarship awards of $1000 each to eight local students.
Belle’s famous musical friends wowed the crowd mostly made up of Millennial youth with songs spanning decades of jazz, blues and R&B. Talents included Jazz pianist Bobby Lyle, “Funkin’ for Jamaica” genius and trumpeter Tom Browne, recording artist Tarralyn Ramsey and Christian rap artist Canton Jones.
“We want to raise awareness about HBCUs and political activism for youth. Our goal is to inspire youth in the areas of education, political activism and music,” Belle said.
Belle, like many, recognized the murderous culture of police around the country and the heat rising in Black communities. But he believed the youth’s energy needed more direction and focus. Through BMM, Belle wants to impose an agenda to empower youth to effect change. He believes real change begins with elevating the mindset of people and empowering communities through education.
“I want to go from a dependency attitude to a proactive attitude. We’ve got a character deficit in our community. I’d like to build the character of young people. I want to deal with the consciousness (of young people) and I want to give them a platform to express themselves and evolve,” he explained.
The drummer hopes to be an inspiration for young people all over the country. He plans to take the initiative national and visit Historically Black Universities in hopes of reminding students and communities of the significance and impact they can have in this country.
Scholarship recipient Zoee Thomas, a senior at Leuzinger High School in Lawndale, Calif. expressed her gratitude for the award as she aspires to study criminal justice at California State University Long Beach.
“I want to become a medical examiner,” she said. “The concert was so lively and beautiful. Black people came together and we were spiritual and we had a good time.”
To learn more or support Black Minds Matter, visit http://www.blackmindsmatter.com/ to donate or purchase merchandise. All proceeds go to creating more resources for youth.