Story by Franceska Rouzard
Many in the region may remember Saturday, February 21st as the night of a wicked wintry storm. However, the funkiest and flyest of Philadelphia will remember it as the night they shared a dance floor with brilliant activists like Dr. Janice Johnson Dias, and talented artists and pioneers the likes of Philadelphia’s own Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter, DJ Jazzy Jeff and Rich Medina [yea we’re claiming you too Rich!].
Hosted by the GrassROOTS Community Foundation, an organization co-founded by long time friends Black Thought and Dr. Johnson Dias, The 5th Annual Let’s Move It: Philly aimed to raise money for Linglebach Elementary [learn how you can help #SaveLingelbach], one of many educational institutions in Philadelphia who received laughable, in a not so funny kind of way, discretionary funding for this school year. Held at Trilogy [formerly Palmer Social Club], attendees described it simply as, “a good time for a good cause.”
Many who braved the weather and ventured to the event, from near and far, expressed openly they were “glad they came out!”
Personally I, as a Philly transplant, was in awe of the entire evening. It is difficult to pinpoint a sole source of wonderment. It could have been the overwhelming turn out given the weather. Perhaps, it was bankhead bouncing to Busta Rhymes with an accomplished, well dressed sociology professor. Conceivably, it was the easy-going nature of Grammy-Award winning, world-renowned artists mingling with guests just like all the others.
No doubt it was the DJ sets and live performance from Black Thought, which so well complimented the energy of the evening – originating with the cause(s) the GrassROOTS Community Foundation stand for.
I was afforded the privilege of speaking with Dr. Johnson Dias, Rich Medina, and Black Thought about the GrassROOTS Community Foundation, the Linglebach Elementary cause, and future plans for Philadelphia.
FR: On the home page of the GrassROOTS Community Foundation’s website, there is a big banner that says “A Tribute to Tanji Dewberry”. Who is that?
Dr. Johnson Dias: Tanji Dewberry is a friend, author, mentor and a trailblazer in ‘Super Camp‘, a summer day camp for Philadelphia’s inner city girls. Her dream was to extend it to Philadelphian boys. She died in a fire trying to rescue her children. Last year, her mother, Cynthia Mitchell, funded three boys to Super Camp.
FR: What does it take to put an event like this together?
Black Thought: It takes a lot of planning and flexibility and the delegation of many responsibilities. It takes a strong and reliable team, people you can trust and who can improvise. It takes a village.
FR: I read the GrassROOTS Community Foundation has a three year commitment to Linglebach Elementary to create an after school program. What are the next steps?
Black Thought: After tonight, we plan to give a nice sized contribution. Our next fundraiser is a 5k race called Roots Rock Run.
FR: Dr. Johnson Dias and Black Thought have decided to take their success and help the city of Philly, and others. What motivates you, Rich?
Rich Medina: I have a son, a 7 year old. Also, I went to college so I know the importance of education and learning. However, I feel I learned even more during college in my extracurricular activities — outside of the classroom. For that reason, I remain a student even now. I believe in a lifetime of learning and promoting wellness and forward thinking.
More info about the GrassROOTS Community Foundation
Photos courtesy of Saeed Briscoe