Youth Speaks, a nonprofit committed to creating a forum for Spoken Word performance, will present their 12th Annual Bringing the Noise for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on Monday, January 19. This year’s theme is “A Certain Kind of Fire” – a concept taken from Dr. King's last speech, "I've Been to the Mountaintop," in which King states: “There was a certain kind of fire that no water could put out.”
“We chose this theme,” said event coordinator Lauren Whitehead, “because we recognize its significance during the past election.”
More often than not, Youth Speaks' poets mingle poetry with politics. Many of these artists come from the tradition of dub poetry, which has been called (by the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, slammaster Bob Holman,) “the democratization of verse.”
The event is a big ballyhoo that draws nearly 1,000 people and this year the Bay Area's leading youth spoken word artists will be joined by civil rights activist Yuri Kochiyama, who will deliver a speech on movements and legacy. Also performing will be the Grammy-award winning Pacific Boys Choirand Middle School Drummers from St. Paul’s Episcopal School.
The conjuring of MLK’s “Certain Kind of Fire” resonates with Youth Speaks mission of the youth empowerment and engagement. “To me," said Whitehead, “it means that with youth comes a kind of energy, a sense of perseverance, and a genuine belief in the possibility of change. We know that when supported and given a safe space youth can become an unstoppable force—and can overcome any obstacle in their way.”
Youth Speaks works with 45,000 teens per year in the Bay Area alone, and has created partner programs in 42 cities across the United, since its founding in 1996.
This year, the night promises to be particularly electric – as it celebrates youth activism and a commitment for change on the national holiday of a birthday that is also the eve of an inauguration of two men whose achievements book-end the past century.