Music in Movements

By Crystal M.


Through tough times music artists have used their music or performances to push boundaries and comment on topics such as police brutality.

Music made as commentary, like “Alright” by Kendrick Lamar, has spread like wildfire. People even began using it as a protest song. The lyrics were chanted by protesters at Cleveland State University in the summer of 2015 (where an officer pepper-sprayed the crowd).

The Guardian claimed Lamar as “one of the most outspoken rap artists about violence affecting African-Americans.” Kendrick Lamar isn't the only artist with powerful music making waves - singers like Janelle Monae with her song “Hell You Talmbout” featuring Wondaland Records are also tipping the scales. In the song, various names of those shot and killed by officers are named. In addition, there are songs like “Don’t Shoot” which is a collaboration between numerous rappers (including Rick Ross, Wale, P. Diddy, and more). The song commented on the current violence from police occurring in communities.

One of the most recent songs sparking conversation, “Formation” by Beyonce, comments on police brutality, racial inequality, and women's rights. The video includes different representations of the police force with compelling images including: a young boy in a hoodie dancing before a row of armed police officers, and graffiti on the walls that reads “stop shooting us.”

The songs and work created by these artists help shed light on social and cultural issues, continue important conversations, and represent hope for a better future. Music continues to play an active role in social movements, one that is only getting bigger.

The Fixers: Stories from A Greater Cleveland (Documentary in the Making)

"What narrative will be ours, what narrative will be this influx of activists and protestors, what narrative will be driven by money, what money will be driven by the missing, what narrative will be driven by truth" 

A collaborative film series about democratic process, public policy, and who gets to tell Cleveland's story during the 2016 Republican National Convention. Most areas of Cleveland have seen significant increases in poverty since 1970. Cleveland was the 5th largest city in the U.S. when it last hosted a Convention in 1936. Now the 48th, and the most economically distressed city in the nation, Cleveland struggles to maintain viable infrastructure.

"In journalism, a fixer is a well-networked local who helps a foreign journalist find quick entry into a story by translating for them and introducing them to people who are in the know.  The Fixers has sought out Clevelanders who operate like fixers. People who work within large social networks to build Cleveland's vitality, and social and economic equity.  We asked these fixers what tour of Cleveland they would give RNC delegates if they had the chance.  Their tours were documented in a series of short films, being released serially from May 20 - July 21, 2016. Each release is being accompanied by screenings and public dialoguesaround Cleveland." 

During the 2016 Republican National Convention, Cleveland expects:

  • 50,000 visitors

  • 10 billion media hits

  • $250,000 in direct spending

Most areas of Cleveland have seen significant increases in poverty since 1970.

Cleveland was the 5th largest city in the U.S. when it last hosted a Convention in 1936. Now 48th, and the most economically distressed city in the nation, Cleveland struggles to maintain viable infrastructure.

Significant investments are being made, both from the top down and the bottom up, to help Cleveland rebound into vitality, and many cite the 2016 RNC is evidence of a Cleveland comeback:

But there is a more complex story here.

Most RNC traffic will be concentrated in a small section of downtown Cleveland—the recent recipient of $4 billion in development dollars.

What will delegates and journalists be missing if they stay within Cleveland’s tourist districts? What could the rest of Cleveland tell political decision-makers about how public policy is impacting urban Americans?

The Fixers is a collaborative public art project asking just that.

Check out The Fixers' website:

What Does It Mean to Be Latino/a in the USA Today?

By Erica L.

The NY Times has created an incredible resource for provoking public discourse called "Conversation on Race: A series of short films about identity in America." These powerful media bites deal with racism, privilege, and the myriad ways people experience prejudice and discrimination based on ethnic or racial origin in the USA. In this particular video, 13 individuals share personal stories and struggles as self-identifying Latinos/as, revealing the breadth and depth of Latino identity in the USA. The videos are poignant and honest, a heartfelt entrance into the complexities of navigating Latino/a identity in the USA, as they discuss cultural origins, discrimination and marginalization, language and cultural barriers, colorism and light-skinned privilege, and the pain of cultural erasure/whitewashing in an effort to blend in to white America. While these 13 voices cover a lot of ground, they are just a launching point into a much broader discussion of Latino/a, Hispanic, and Afro-Latino/a identity both internationally and in America.

"Before we could even discuss racism and the challenges Latinos face in this country, though, we had to define the term “Latino.” When we asked our interviewees, their responses were wide-ranging. For some, Latino identity is a political stance involving both race and nationality, while others found the label deeply constraining. Most pointed to the frustrations of being stereotyped, marginalized and demeaned. The people we spoke with were vulnerable, and their stories illuminating, but most of what we took from them is that we need far more examination of this crucial segment of the American population." - NY Times Conversation on Race

For more on Latino Identity in the USA, check out these clips collected from NPR's Latino USA:

Black Love Matters

By Ratha A.

A dispatch from the inaugural gathering of a proudly diffuse, rapidly growing, hyper-local movement for black lives.

 By Mark Winston Griffith

 (Photo courtesy of  Arash Azizzada )

 (Photo courtesy of Arash Azizzada)

     The first ever Movement for Black Lives Convening took place from Friday July 24th to Sunday the 26th at Cleveland State University, bringing together more than 1000 civil rights activists from across the country. The conference included leaders from Million Hoodies Movement for Justice, Ferguson Action and Cleveland Action to discuss what's next for the Black Lives Matter movement. Even as the train of relatives and loved ones of black people killed by law enforcement officials walked across the University stage, the was absolutely no doubt that the conference was about "the defense of black bodies, the celebration of black collective resiliency, and the building of a movement the likes of which has never been seen." The family members all shared memories and little details about their murdered loved ones reminding everyone of the things that made them human; their favorite colors, sports teams and nicknames. A vital aspect of the convening was the role the LGTBQI community played. 

"Through the crucibles of New York, Cleveland, Ferguson, and dozens of other less notorious battlegrounds, a new generation of black change agents has emerged—people who are organizing youth, queer, and transgender folks, women, immigrants, the differently abled, and other black communities. #BlackLivesMatter has been the rallying cry."

The projection of the LGTBQI community and youth at the gathering depicted the emergence of a new, strong force in the overall fight against police violence. The conference organizers astutely recognized that the gathering was really a networking hub and fueling station for a thousand self-powered movement engines, and all of these different parts demanded future gatherings. 

Read more here: Black Love Matters






Transgender Deaths in the Cleveland Area 2012-2016

By Erica L.

There have been 6 reported deaths in Cleveland, 1 in Cincinnati since 2012

5 out of the 7 were women of color

Via Buzzfeed

Also check out the HRC 2015 Municipal Equality Index Scorecard for Cleveland

"Ohio has been one of the worst in the nation when it comes to hate crimes against transgender women of color. Four transgender women have been killed in Ohio since January of 2013, three of them were transgender women of color; a shocking rate given transgender people are only .3 percent of the U.S. population, transgender women perhaps only .2 percent, and transgender women of color a fraction of that." - via Huffington Post

"Though violence against transgender people is widely considered a national epidemic by LGBT advocates, the state of Ohio has seen a particularly disturbing trend. Tiffany Edwards was the fourth transgender woman killed in Ohio in the last 20 months. Three of the victims were transgender women of color. The Buckeye Region Anti-Violence Organization (BRAVO) also reports 14 incidents of non-fatal hate-motivated attacks on transgender people throughout the state in 2013. Many attacks go unreported. Most recently in Ohio, on Nov. 3, Candice Rose Milligan, 33, was hospitalized after being beaten in broad daylight by a group of men who allegedly yelled, “That’s a dude in a dress,” the Toledo Blade reported."                                                                                                                                    - via Buzzfeed

"FBI statistics from 2007 to 2012, according to a Ohio legislature fiscal note, found a record-high 63 hate crimes in Ohio in 2012 against people for their sexual orientation. There was no FBI data on transgender people for those years."

1. Bri Golec, 02.13.2015

Bri Golec, a 22-year-old living in Akron, Ohio, was just beginning to explore a transgender identity when stabbed to death by their father February 13, 2015. Kevin Golec, 52, has been charged with murder and felony domestic violence. Police detained him shortly after 10 p.m. Friday after responding to several calls to 911 he made alleging that several members of a "cult" had broken into his house to commit robbery and had attacked both him and Bri Golec. With no evidence of a robbery, however, police determined that Golec was lying and that it was he who had had an altercation with and fatally stabbed his child.

Several advocates believe that Kevin Golec's statement about a nonexistent cult may be a reference to a trans support group Bri Golec had allegedly begun attending again, notes Pennsylvania LGBT blog Pittsburgh Lesbian CorrespondentAccording to a bandmate, Brian dropped the trans identifier about a year ago. He now identified as an androgynous pansexual man

2. Tiffany Edwards 06.26.2014

Tiffany Edwards, 28, was shot to death in Walnut Hills, Ohio, a suburb of Cincinnati, on June 26, 2014. Quamar Edwards — who is not related to Tiffany — turned himself in six days later, after police issued a warrant for his arrest. In attempting to justify his actions, Edwards reportedly voiced a "trans panic" defense through an uncle, who alleged that the assailant "lost his cool" after Tiffany "came on to him." While it remains unclear whether Quamar Edwards drew on this defense during his trial, an argument that excuses a murderer by claiming his internalized transphobia "drove" him to kill has been repeatedly discouraged by the American Bar Association and was banned in California in September.

3. Leelah Acorn 12.28.2014


The LGBTQ community is exiting 2014 on a tragic note with the death of Leelah Alcorn, a 17-year-old transgender teen from Ohio who, according to reports, committed suicide early Sunday morning. Alcorn’s passing has become an international story due to the public nature of the event—she was struck by a tractor-trailer on the interstate—and to an eloquent Tumblr post that she had scheduled to go live in the event of her death. In her post, Alcorn speaks of her Christian parents’ refusal to accept her trans identity and her sense that life could not get better if she had to wait to transition any longer. She committed suicide by walking out in front of oncoming traffic on the Interstate 71 highway. In December 2015, Cincinnati became the second U.S. city after Washington D.C. to ban the practice of conversion therapy outright; council member Chris Seelbach cited Alcorn's suicide as an influence in the decision, stating that "She challenged us to make her death matter, and we're doing just that.

4. Cernia 'Ce Ce' Dove (Acoff) 01.27.2013

Cernia 'Ce Ce' Dove (Acoff), 20 years old, was stabbed to death in the Cleveland area on January 5 by Andrey Bridges, authorities later confirmed.[34]  Ce Ce's decomposed body was found April 17 at the bottom of the Olmsted Township retention pond, stabbed and with a rope tied from her waist to a concrete block. She was 20 years old. It took two weeks to identify her through DNA records.  She had been reported missing on 27 March 2013 (via wiki). In November, her killer was convicted and sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 20 years. 

Following her murder in April 2013, CeCe Acoff was treated to a massive dose of sensationalistic, incorrect reporting. Describing her as an “oddly dressed man,”The Plain Dealer smeared Acoff and attacked her character. In the two stories about her: “Brutal slaying marks the end of Cleveland man’s fight for acceptance” and “Oddly dressed man found in Olmsted Township pond identified,” Acoff is never actually identified as a woman, and is never once referred to using she/her pronouns. After GLAAD became involved with The Plain Dealer‘s “horrific coverage,” the paper edited the online version of Acoff’s story by going out of their way to avoid all pronouns rather than treat her with even a tiny amount of respect.

5. Brittany-Nicole Kidd-Stergis 12.06.2013

The body of Brittany-Nicole Kidd-Stergis, a 22-year-old transgender woman of color, was found in her parked car on the 21200 block of West 25th Street in Cleveland, outside a public housing facility, around 2:30 a.m. Friday (December 6, 2013), according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer. She died of an apparent gunshot wound to the head.  Six months later, 19-year-old Delshawn D. Carroll was sentenced to 18 years to life in prison after confessing to the murder. While motive remains unclear, officials say that Stergis, who was an aspiring cosmetology student, knew her killer.

6. Betty Skinner 12.04.2013


Betty Skinner, 52, was found December 4, 2013, at her Cleveland senior apartment complex, dead from severe head injuries. A physically disabled woman who required assisted living, she was unable to leave her bed during the attack. Police have not revealed any leads or suspects. 


7. Kendall Hampton 08.23.2012 (Cincinnati)


Kendall Hampton, the 26 year old transwoman who was shot and killed in the Cincinnati metro area suburb of Walnut Hills, OH in August 2012 who was subsequently misgendered by the local media. Eugene Carlos Dukes, 19, was arrested in early September for the murder of Kendall Hampton, 26.