HONOREES—From left: Jeremy Resnick, Emmai Alaquiva and Andrew Butcher (Photo by J.L. Martello)
by Rebecca Nuttall
Courier Staff Writer
On Jan. 18, Coro Pittsburgh recognized organizations and individuals who carry on Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy through their service to the community. Among this year’s honorees was Hip Hop on L.O.C.K., a mentoring and arts education program that uses hip-hop music and culture to engage youth.
“When you have an organization like Hip Hop On Lock, who like Martin Luther King recognize that activism comes from the people, it’s good to recognize that,” said Jamar Thrasher, who nominated the organization. “What’s great about Hip Hop On Lock is it uses hip-hop to motivate people. The music gets a bad rap, but it’s really about the message.”
Hip Hop on L.O.C.K. was recognized with Coro’s 2013 Organizational Leadership Award for their commitment to mentoring local youth. The organization uses arts education to teach skills such as leadership, math, science and literacy.
“It’s more than a mentoring program; it’s more than teaching kids,” said Marna Owens, a radio host on the organization’s L.O.C.K down Radio. “We want to inspire kids through music.”
The program allows participants ages 8-18 to form a mock record label through which they learn to write, produce, record, mix, master, develop and market music. Students in the program are also involved in choosing a non-profit cause to benefit from the proceeds of their record label.
“You cannot tell me hip-hop doesn’t change lives,” said Emmai Alaquiva, the organization’s founder and executive director.
The other honorees recognized at the Martin Luther King Jr. Leadership & Diversity Awards, which was held at the August Wilson Center for African American Culture, were Jeremy Resnick, co-founder and executive director of Propel Schools, who received the 2013 Distinguished Individual Leadership Award; and Andrew Butcher, co-founder and CEO of Growth Through Energy + Community Health Strategies, who received the 2013 distinguished Coro Alumni Leadership Award.
“I feel very fortunate to live in Pittsburgh, the most livable city, and I know that all of us don’t feel that it’s the most livable city,” said Gregory Crowley, Coro Center for Civic Leadership president and CEO. “But the people we’re recognizing tonight have a vision for this city and the way it should be.”
Resnick was recognized for the commitment he has made through eight charter schools in Allegheny County to reduce education disparities between poor and rich communities. Butcher was selected for the award for his commitment to community revitalization through green economic development initiatives.
“This is a very exciting time to be focusing on leadership,” said Sala Udin, August Wilson Center for African American Culture co-director and Coro president emeritus. “I want to congratulate the winners of the award tonight.”
Coro is a nonprofit educational organization focused on developing the leadership skills of individuals. The organization’s participants also learn how to address social, community, economic development and governance challenges.