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Report for America is a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues and communities.

Celebrating Black Lives Through Music

Provided by Chantel Charis

A DeKalb musician is partnering with a local social justice group to put on an evening of music.

Violin vigils have taken place across the country to honor Elijah McClain. McClain, 23, was a Black man who died last year, after an encounter with the Aurora, Colorado police.

Violinist Chantel Charis said a Chicago vigil sparked the interest in doing something locally in DeKalb.   

Charis mentioned that one of the people in the Black Lives Matter DeKalb group posted something about doing a similar event.  

“Shrestha, she has been really active in the community," Charis said. "And she was like, 'Do you think anybody would be interested in this?' And a lot of people showed interest and I was like, 'oh my gosh, like, I've been waiting for someone to bring this up.'” 

Charis said she worked with Shrestha Singh and Carla May Robinson to plan this free event.  

“So," she said, "we put out kind of a call for submission on Facebook and just said, 'We're going to do this on this day and this time at Hopkins Park. And if anybody's interested in performing like, we would love to have any local talents.'" 

She shared that they wanted to include more than just violin players. 

“Well, there are a lot of artists that we know," she said, "that maybe don't play the violin that would love to participate, and we shouldn't be, you know, entirely exclusive about this." 

So, poets, rappers and others will also be part of the mix.  

Charis said people who attend will need to follow COVID-19 safety precautions.

“We're going to be really careful about enforcing social distancing," she said, "and requiring everyone to wear masks. And then we're going to have hand sanitizing stations."

An Evening of Music for Black Lives will take place Aug. 21 from 5:30 to 7:00 at the Hopkins Park Bandshell. 

  • Yvonne Boose is a 2020 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project. It's a national service program that places talented journalists in local newsrooms like WNIJ. You can learn more about Report for America at wnij.org.