Silence Is Violence

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Peace Clubs digest

Date: Sat, Mar. 20, 2010


Before he was murdered on December 28, 2006, drummer Dinerral Shavers started the first-ever band at Rabouin High School. He was teaching French at Rabouin at the time, but founding the band was a labor of love, on his own time and with his own money. Dinerral knew what music education had done for him personally as a developing student, and how it had kept him engaged in school. He wanted to open the power of creative expression to other students.

After Dinerral’s death, his sister Nakita and the Hot 8 Brass Band continued working with his band members, as well as with students at Douglass High School, which Dinerral attended. The Hot 8 and Nakita wanted the students to think about how music could become an outlet for frustrations, sadness, and anger. They started the SilenceIsViolence Program for Peace in Our Schools, reaching dozens of students that first year.

Today, the Program for Peace has evolved into eight SilenceIsViolence Peace Clubs, in five Recovery School District schools. Program Manager Allison Goodman coordinates a team of some 15 artists working in RSD schools all over the city. These artists help students use artistic expression to confront and challenge the issue of violence in our community. They work in every artistic medium, from painting to music to dance to poetry and parading arts: In fact, on March 7, students from Booker T. Washington will appear in the V.I.P. Ladies Annual Parade, featuring the float they have built during Peace Club meetings!

Peace Clubs meet weekly, pursuing semester-long projects or workshops completed in a single day. In either case, artist-mentors combine open discussions about violence in our community with artistic responses to the violence. The clubs work with anywhere from 5 to 25 students at a time, and the projects they complete in turn reach the entire school populations with messages of peace and non-violent problem solving.

Many of the schools we work in have no art programs, meaning that student experiences through SilenceIsViolence may be their only opportunity for creative exploration and expression during school. You can see some of their moving work and responses on the Peace Clubs blog:

There is no more important work SilenceIsViolence can do than countering the culture of violence among young people in our city. The Peace Clubs have been incredibly successful at spreading a healing influence through the schools we work in. The program expanded dramatically this year thanks to the support of the Campbell Foundation. Yet the demand from students and administrations has overwhelmed our current resources. To support our work in Orleans Parish schools, please make a contribution or contact us for more information through our website.