Student Voices: Tricked Out Trash Cans

“One of the biggest ways this work has impacted me would be in increasing my confidence. Before, I would rap, but I wasn’t confident. I would look down and rap lyrics about stealing, killing, drug use, and getting rich. Mr. Rasheed heard me and asked, “What about adding a hook, like ‘no more gun violence,’ and see where that takes you?” And I did, and he said, “Dude, you’ve got talent.” That song became “Put the Guns Down”' and focused on how we can uplift ourselves: “Pick up the pen like the scholars do.”

Since I joined the group I’ve seen how my voice can bring me power and authority. I’ve been all over the place—I’ve performed in front of the governor and in a senator’s mansion. There are so many people who have linked arms with us. Other young Black kids I know are seeing me and they’re asking, “How can I do this? Whose group are you in?” And they see that I’m not just up there for me but for my community, and I see their pride in me. Student Oren Hatchett