Happy Valentine’s Day. Love is in the air. I fell in love AGAIN, as I often do with innovators-creative activists-big thinkers, and this week I had the pleasure to hear Derrick Ashong, Performance Artist, Producer and Founder of Take Back the Mic talk about his work — thanks to my friend CityKids founder Laurie Meadoff, who is Derrick’s non-profit partner. And yep. Fell in love again. Fell in love with Take Back the Mic!
It’s the Editor’s Pick this week because. Because of Derrick, who is a force of nature, and who is committed to giving global youth a stage (virtual and live.) To do that he created Amp-it, a social music sharing platform, which powers Take Back the Mic. Ashong is organizing a global World Cup of Hip Hop so that musically inclined youth can find, share and perform for their fans, and for the world. From Ghana originally, Ashong understands that the most powerful way for global youth to find their own powerful original voices is to Take Back the Mic. It’s just launched for kids from Kingston, Jamaica; Medellin, Colombia; and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The finalists will be competing for the Cup in Miami at the eMerge festival.
Ashong is committed to bringing not just the performers but their fans to the final competition. He gets the social nature of having a voice — which must be one of the many bonds with Meadoff, who founded CityKids and Chat the Planet, and is a lifelong producer of youth performance, turning pain into purpose and creating safe spaces everywhere she goes.
He includes the fan base, the community in everything he touches. As I was about to leave the event, Ashong friend and collaborator, the photographer Jane Feldman shared the following story with me. She was with the Reverend Desmond Tutu, sharing a little photo flip book she made for the very Rev. Tutu at gathering for peace they had all attended. When Ashong’s image came up, Tutu said…”we’re counting on that one.” And Ashong is counting on global youth, and giving them a stage.
Please fund his IndieGogo campaign.
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Julie Anixter is the executive editor and co-founder of Innovation Excellence. She also serves as the Chief Learning Officer for RELEVENTS and Executive in Residence for the Disruptor Foundation. The co-author of three books, she’s working on a fourth on future innovators. She worked with Tom Peters for five years on bringing big ideas to big audiences. Now she works with the US Military, Healthcare, Education, Manufacturing and other high test innovation cultures that make a difference. You can follow her @julieanixter