Taking it To the Streets!!!
Taking It to the Streets
By: George Chapman
Whether it was your mother, your father, your great uncle, or that annoying family friend, someone you know told you to use what you have to get what you want. Easy right? Well not quite. Like many inner city youth the students at neighboring high school Francis L. Cardozo possess talents which are often overlooked and discouraged. With little to no support their road to success appeared dim and obsolete but with the help of new found mentors through Street Bid’Naz: A new kind of hustle, their vision became a whole lot clearer.
Street Bid’Naz a grass root organization started by senior Agzja Carey was formed in response to a rash breakout of violence and homicide in the Oakland area of California. In its infancy Agzja held bi-monthly meetings with the Oakland community at the Family Violence Law Center in downtown Oakland while also visiting local high schools with other members of the organization to speak out about the state of the violence and crime which flooded the streets of their community. After much success in Oakland including a largely successful dance competition, Agzja brought the organization with her back to Howard and the District surrounding her, and began the next step of her amazingly beneficial organization.
Like many other public schools in the District, Francis L. Cardozo High School is not well supported, nor is success for its students well anticipated. Many of it’s students are involved in lifestyles most could not dare reciprocate, but nonetheless still deserve an equal opportunity to succeed. Started in the fall of 2008, Agzja and a slew of other supporters began a eight week Saturday program with students from Cardozo High. Serving as friends and eventual mentors, members of the bison community geared up to help the students realize their full potential in order to ensure their success. “Howard being across the street is a big resource for anything that that they want to do. Some want to be producers and singers so we invited them to Verbal Armageddon and other shows exposing them to what they can do when in college,” says freshman English major, Adjoa Nyarko. Supplying internships, emotional support, and guidance, the members of Street Bid’Naz committed more than just their time to helping these gifted individuals.
This past Saturday the organization held its first mentee adoption ceremony in the auditorium of the architecture building. “We created within Street Bid’Naz a family, the black family unit is very powerful, and can be very strong but not if it doesn’t have a strong foundation, so the purpose of the adoption ceremony is to break us up into families and officially adopt our mentors,” says Shenise Miller, sophomore political Science major from New York. For Shenice the organization goes well beyond something to put on a resume. “My brother reminds me of the kids we mentor, and because he is no longer here this[Street Bid’Naz] means my brother’s life, and so it means me saving somebody’s life.”
The large turnout and support for the event emphasized the mentors and founder Agzja Carey’s commitment to the organization and showcased that hearty bison spirit. Receiving tons of donations from campus organizations such as HUSA, Campus Pals, National Council of Negro Women(NCNW), Gentlemen of Drew Social Club(G.O.D.S.C), Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc, and Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc helped to make the event that much more successful. Not to mention the gracious community involvement from hairstylist Princess of Joya Imaging Studio with assistance from female bisonette Janay Sanders and Jasmine Rice as well as fellow hairstylist Zelena Williams and Dana Lawrence. In addition to hair, there was a slew of involvement from outside resources including make-up by Leigh Jones and music by turn table master DJ Konshince and friends. Senior political science major, and member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc, Marcus Ware notes his fraternity for helping cultivate his passion for mentoring. “Our chapter donated some of the clothes and shoes that are going to be used today because as a chapter we just felt like the development of young men is one of the most important things we can do as college level men.”
As the mentee’s were placed in their respective mentoring families the excitement and screams from family members and friends grew louder. As one of the young women opened up her gift for which each family presented a mentee with she cried from the overwhelming feeling of the gesture. In fact the whole ceremony was filled with tears but none more meaningful than founder Agzja Carey’s. Kimberley Overton, a parent of one of the mentee’s said in response to her child being involved in “Street Bid’Naz that, “ He is a little more responsible, and prompt, I can never get him up on Saturday to do anything, but he got up to come here[Street Bid’Naz].” A reception in the lounge of Drew Hall followed the Ceremony where mentee Vanda Hill reflected on the experience noting, “My biggest problem was coming to school on time and doing homework, I’ve changed because having somewhere there has shown me that school is not always boring, it’s good, and it’s fun too!”