While West Philly’s Hip Hop Fundamentals has already reached—and exceeded—their $10,000 Kickstarter fundraising goal, there are still 22 hours left to donate to the campaign supporting the dance crew’s upcoming educational assembly, “Civil Rights Movements: The Power of Youth Engagement as Seen Through the Eyes of Dr. King.”
Founded in 2011 by Repstyles Crew members Steve “Believe” Lunger and Mark “Metal” Wong, Hip Hop Fundamentals work to “empower and educate” local youth by teaching academics and social issues through hip hop assemblies. Their new hour-long “Civil Rights Movement” show (view video below), which will be performed at 10 Philadelphia public schools, will use dance, history lectures, music, interactive workshops, and audience participation to showcase the critical role students played in advancing civil rights in the 1950s and 1960s. A free May 5 public performance of the show at Clark Park kicked off the crew’s fundraising efforts.
During the show, students will have the opportunity to unite to “overcome prejudice, breaking unjust laws, writing letters to elected officials, marching and protesting, and boycotting,” Hip Hop Fundamentals’ Education Director, Aaron “Professor Peabody” Troisi. Hip Hop Fundamentals five-performer cast will read samples from different Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. letters and speeches, including “I Have a Dream” and “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” as well as highlight examples of student leadership and involvement in the Greensboro Lunch Counter Sit-Ins, the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and the Freedom Rides.
“Civil Rights Movement” will also illuminate hip hop’s connection to the historic movement, with particular focus on Afrika Bambaataa and other founders of the politically and socially-conscious genres. According to Troisi, in drawing this connection, Hip Hop Fundamentals will show how hip hop “is one of the many legacies of the Civil Rights Movement; an empowering modern culture in which young people play a critical role.”
The tour will kick off before the end of this month and last through the end of the school year. While Hip Hop Fundamentals is still hammering out schedule and location details, the crew hopes to perform in West Philly’s Samuel Gompers and Overbrook Elementary schools, as well as Dimner Beeber Middle School.
According to Troisi, all funds raised through Kickstarter will go towards tour overhead, which costs roughly $1,000 per show for performers, transportation, production, and other expenses, with no costs passed on to the schools. He said some of the money will also fund arts programming provided free to local high-need schools, and hiring local young dancers for HHP’s youth-teaching-youth mentorship framework.
“We are hoping to bring empowering arts programming back to Philly’s public schools. We are hoping to work with and educate the youth in our communities who need it most,” he said. “This campaign has been so successful, it is obvious that our city is starved for good, educational arts programming. We’re honored to be a part of providing that to youth in our city.”
- Annamarya Scaccia