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Speaker: Susie Stevens
Event: Songs in the Key of Life Pieces (concert/reception)
Date and Time: Saturday, May 5, 7 PM
*Connect. Create. Contribute. Celebrate.
The process began in 1996 when Mary Brown and Larry B. Quick realized it was time to connect.
Mary and Larry discovered five boys near Mary’s work place who were causing trouble because they didn’t have a place to belong.
Larry understood that. He grew up in the rough neighborhoods of Ward 7.
Larry grew up in a single family home.
He knew what it was like to be unsure when your next meal would be. He understood growing up fast so you couldn’t get taken advantage of by the streets. He knew what it was like not to share your emotions because you would be considered weak.
Larry understood these boys. He knew what they needed. He knew that it was time to create.
He began working with them and gave them that place, an outlet for their emotions. His unique brand of art became the foundation for Life Pieces to Masterpieces.
Today as we sit here and enjoy the music, let us allow ourselves to reflect on why Life Pieces is as critical today as it was 15 years ago.
The kids all read books about Martin Luther King this past week. In the words of 9-year-old Malachi, they know that Dr. King fought for equality.
“Why did they make people drink from different water-fountains?” Jayvon asked. “That doesn’t make any sense. Why does the color of your skin matter?” He said.
It is a blessing that our children can grow up in this world, with a black family in the White House. In my day, we would have never allowed ourselves to even think it.
African-Americans have come so far and yet, we are only part way there.
70. That’s the percentage of black children that will grow up in a single family home according to the National Center for Health Statistics.
41. That’s the percentage of black males in DC that will finish high school.
31. That’s the percentage of black males will serve time in prison during their life.
14.1. That’s the percentage of black male unemployment according to the Bureau of Labor. Higher than every other population in the country.
One. Is the number of homicide as a cause of death that plagues black males ages 15-24 as listed by the Center of Disease Control.
Larry Brown saw these problems and he knew he had to create a solution.
We are here today because we refuse to allow black males to hold this burden.
We refuse to let them believe that they must resign their lives to statistics.
We insist that they can do better.
0. That’s how many men Life Pieces has given up on
90. That’s the percent of Life Pieces men that have not been involved in the juvenile system.
100. That’s the percentage of Life Pieces men that have graduated high school.
Also the percentage of LPTM men that have enrolled in post-secondary education.
1,000. That’s how many African-American men have been touched through LPTM
1,500. That’s how many pieces of art have been made at LPTM
Connect. Create. Contribute.
You contribute your time.
You contribute your money.
You contribute your heart to these young men.
Every day these children are picked up from their schools and brought to a loving environment where there is no shortage of books, learning materials, toys or food.
When those boys get to the fourth floor of Charles Drew, they are in a place where no one can take anything from them and that is absolutely critical to the mission of Larry’s vision.
Another critical portion of Larry’s vision is the shield of faith. The colorful principles of loving, giving, language, arts, spiritually and meditation mixed together gives you a brown muddy color which is discipline. Keep mixing these colors and you get a dark, black color that is leadership.
Any young man at Life Pieces to Masterpieces can recite the shield to you.
What’s more is that you can see it.
Each apprentice lives the shield.
You see it when David runs in front of you to hold open the door.
You see it when Travis asks the rest of the class to be quiet and listen to the lead teacher.
You see it when Isaiah starts his homework during playtime so he can do artwork with Brother Seneca
You see it in each senior apprentice.
*Lorenzo McDonald stands before you today an incredible example of what we desire for LPTM men. He came here in 2003 when his older brother brought him by.
At the time of his arrival, Lorenzo was helping his mother raise 4 kids. He was just 13-years-old.
At LPTM, Lorenzo saw Michael Winlow formerly of the Washington Post, he met Al Roker of the Today Show.
Lorenzo had the opportunity through Life Pieces to meet and talk to black males doing things he never really dared to imagine. For the first time, he could see himself in his role models.
For the first time, he could dream.
Lorenzo began aggressively pursuing his education. Today he is a sophomore at Bowie State University majoring in Broadcast Journalism and he is an exemplary mentor for the next generation of Life Pieces men.
Connect. Create. Contribute. Celebrate.
It’s funny how one experience, one decision, one moment can lead to a world of difference…Mary Brown tells the story of how she wanted to be a doctor out of college, but after so many amino acids, she just didn’t want to do it anymore!
Miss Mary, you did not become a doctor, but you have healed. You, Larry, Ben, Elder Bill, Brother Seneca, Brother Maurice and the other countless people involved in the backbone of this organization.
You continue to heal.
At Life Pieces we connect people. We create art. We contribute to our communities.
Today we celebrate.
That’s what we will continue to do. Connect, Create, Contribute and Celebrate the lives of young black men.
Brother Maurice once said, “African-American men are an endangered species. People give to save Siberian tigers. Something as beautiful as African American men should not be extinct either.” I could not have said it better myself.
Enjoy the music. Enjoy the company. Thank you.
Chris Van Hollen (D-Maryland) Running for MD Governor
May 2014 at Salisbury University
[Take a deep breath] Give me a second. [Takes another deep break] I thought it’d be a good idea to walk up the tunnel under the highway as I toured the campus. It was a bad idea. All my family’s hiking didn’t prepare me for that. I’ll catch my breath in a second.
Praise (thank you’s, acknowledgements, praise for audience and self)
This is my first time at Salisbury University. What a beautiful campus nestled in one of America’s great neighborhoods. I’m grateful to be here. Mayor Ireton, it’s good to see you again. Thank you, President Dudley-Eshbach for having me at your school and thank you, students and people of Salisbury for opening up this town’s gem for me.
For the past 11 years, I’ve been serving as congressman for the 8th district and serving most of Montgomery County and part of Prince George’s County. As a congressman, I’ve helped create positive programs for ex-offenders and gang members to re-enter society. I’ve voted to protect my constituents against hate crimes. I’ve brought support and money to build infrastructure, better the education system, and make public transportation easier for all of us. I’m a man that values the people above all. Today, I’m asking for your help.
I love my state. No matter where I travel across the country and around the world, this is where I call home. I love Maryland, but I’ve noticed that in my home, things aren’t always the way they should be.
In the past 10 years, Hispanics have accounted for almost half of all Maryland’s resident growth. But not enough of them are on their way to citizenship and employment.
Unemployment in 2012 was 7%. That seems like a small number compared to the rest of the country, but just 5 years ago, unemployment was less than 4%.
Our small slice of America alone, has over 40 colleges and universities. These students don’t have all-inclusive healthcare.
Salisbury… is this acceptable?
Any forced unemployment is unacceptable. People should have jobs if they want them. With me as governor, Maryland supports the President’s full job package to modernize America’s infrastructure creating thousands of jobs to bring our economy back on its feet.
Trying to get rid of a new American is unacceptable. We cannot allow our Latino community to live in fear of being hauled away. We cannot allow our Latino community to go without work or healthcare because they are waiting for residency or citizenship papers. My job is to protect anyone living on Maryland soil. Immigrants included.
Not giving college students everything that they need to lead healthy lives is unacceptable. Healthcare needs to be all-inclusive in order to keep student’s out-of-pocket expenses low.
Our state is a treasure; DC’s retreat-- a cozy of sorts from the big city life. The Chesapeake flows through our state, reinforcing beauty and simplicity. We are separated from Europe and Africa only by the Atlantic Ocean. This is Maryland. This is home. With the hard work of Governor O’Malley and those before him, our state boasts a superior school system, low unemployment and many liberal freedoms for all people.
Call to Action
I want to… I want us… to do better. With me, as your governor, you can depend on Maryland remaining one of the strongest states with the loudest voice in DC. Vote for me to help keep Maryland at the top.
My critics say that I’m just going to live in O’Malley’s shadow and follow his footsteps. Let me tell you something, that’s not the worst thing. I’m not against change—it’s a necessary part of life. Remember, on the other hand, that not everything needs to be tampered with. Many of the world’s greatest formulas are great because they’re simple and familiar. Coke’s secret recipe, Apple products, the Harry Potter Series. All of these things started with a simple foundation and kept that idea at their core.
If I know anything, it’s that if a formula works and it keeps you rising to the top, then all you have to do it make it work for you.
Our previous governors have set an incredible pace and Maryland is climbing to the top of its game in statehood. It’s 2014, let’s do it again.
*The tunnel under the highway is known to make people feel out of shape and out of breath when they walk it