Ladell Beamon and the Heal the Hood Foundation of Memphis take another step in their fight against youth crime and violence with the "The Living the Dream Conference & Benefit Concert" on Saturday (April 20).
American Way Middle School at 3805 American Way will be the venue. The conference is set for 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., followed by a meet-and-greet from 4:15 p.m. to 5:15 p.m. prior to the benefit concert from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
The purpose of "The Living The Dream Conference and Benefit Concert" is to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by raising funds and awareness for "not-for-profit organizations that demonstrate clear, community-driven solutions to social issues that stem from social economic disempowerment."
Celebrities, well-known industry professionals, community leaders and citizens will engage in education forums and debates during the conference. The benefit concert will serve as a platform to raise funds and promote citywide unity and peace.
The Heal the Hood Foundation is partnering with Crown World Entertainment to host the day's events.
At a press conference promoting the effort, Beamon, Heal the Hood's founder, said, "The kids of Memphis have said that 'we have nothing to do.' Many leaders of Memphis have dropped the ball. The closing of Libertyland (amusement park) and X-Site (family entertainment center) and other places have not helped in the growing of our youth.
"Even with us having over four thousand churches, it has not helped with the crime or the direction of our children having healthy outlets to grow because the churches refuse to work together and that speak volumes."
Heal the Hood, in partnership with others, has plans to "build a facility that includes a music studio, an indoor water slide, computer classes, mentorship programs, a gym and more," said Beamon.
"Three subject's that will be the cornerstones of what we're doing are, 'Is Art Imitating Life? Where Is My Legacy? And Murder, Malice and Planned Destruction.' It's past time that we addressed these specific issues."
Tri-State Defender: Ladell, where are you guys targeting to build this facility and will this facility bring jobs for the community?
Ladell Beamon: We're going to put it up in South Memphis, but we're targeting Longview grounds. However, we're working with the Memphis City Schools and they want to donate land for us to do this and they want us to look at about four different locations before we settle on our decision. And yes, this will bring jobs and it appears to be at least 250 people. It will be open seven days a week up to 11 p.m. at night.
TSD: Are you planning on raising all of this money through concerts?
LB: No, concerts are only a part of it. We are expecting the people of Memphis to invest in their children. All we want is for everyone to give one dollar. Those dollars add up. Many of us spend that on super-sizing a fast-food value meal, so we certainly can spend that on our kids. I believe that we can build what we're trying to achieve. We plan on sending out press releases of all nature, emails, Facebook, Twitter, etc., so that people can see exactly what we're doing. We have been able to reach over 110,000 kids and that number is going to get even larger with the help of our community.
Support on board
• "Good Morning, I'm producer, singer and songwriter Iyse Gibson. I'm an artist and I work with Heal the Hood Foundation. I see that they are tremendously serious about helping the community."
• "Hello, my name is Ladia Yates and I'm a professional dancer. I'm originally from California but I reside here in Memphis. I'm currently dancing for Missy Elliot and we're touring and doing videos right now. I'm so excited to be working with the Heal the Hood Foundation because of the great things they're doing in this community. They are the biggest organization out here that I see doing the most work."
• "Hi my name is Chris Johnson, artist name Chris J. I'm a singer/entertainer. I've been singing a long time here in Memphis. I actually made a national appearance on "106 & Park" and B.E.T, where I was on four times in one year. I have a connection with Pat Charles, who actually runs "106 & Park" and "Spring Bling." And with him we've already been able to get a few kids from the Heal the Hood Foundation to be on "106 & Park." They have been very consistent on what they are trying to do with the kids of Memphis and I recognize that. And so that's why I'm here."
• "Morning, my name is Anthony Hicks. I'm a coordinator of the G.R.A.S.S.Y (Gang Reduction Assistance for Saving Society's Youth) program. We have been in existence since 2009.The purpose of our program is to reduce gang activity in the schools and the community. We have been very successful in what we have been trying to do and we're happy to be working with Heal the Hood Foundation as it gives us yet another opportunity to be affective in this area."