by Yamila Irizarry-Gerould, Truth School Advisory Board member
A few dozen people gathered the morning of Saturday, September 9, at the Wistariahurst Museum in Holyoke to hear from two brothers about the power of hip hop to affect social change. The brothers are RodStarz and G1, aka Rebel Diaz, and they were accompanied by the third member of their Hip Hop group, DJ Illanoiz.
Rebel Diaz woke residents of the Pioneer Valley up with awesome energy and a wealth of knowledge about the history and necessity of not only Hip Hop in social movements, but art as a whole. The Rosenberg Fund for Children, as a kind sponsor of the event, introduced the dynamic duo, who launched right into Hip Hop’s story. They covered everything from DJ Kool Herc, to the contributions of New York City’s immigrants to the sound and look of Hip Hop, to the segregation and gentrification of the city’s boroughs. They also told their own tale of defining and sharing public space in the South Bronx with the creation of the Rebel Diaz Arts Collective, from which they and their fellow artists and mentees were forcibly evicted by the NYPD in 2013.
With more than 40 enthusiastic participants, the class was the largest the Truth School has offered to date. The session wrapped up with questions from the audience and a general sense of hope and excitement.