CHAMPAIGN – Illinois Public Media is committed to discussions about decreasing gun violence in Champaign-Urbana. Last year, we launched our News, Brews, and Beatz series of conversations. Our next event is Monday, February 21 at 6:00 p.m. Illinois Public Media News Director Reginald Hardwick, who co-moderates these discussions, previewed Monday’s conversation with Morning Edition host Brian Moline.
Moline: Remind folks about the concept of News, Brews and Beatz?
Hardwick: We’re bringing people together to talk about ways to combat gun violence. These are calm, compassionate conversations in a safe space, Pour Bros. Taproom in downtown Champaign. The next discussion will take place Monday at 6:00 p.m. I am honored to moderate along with Tracy Parsons, Community Relations Manager and Compliance Officer in the City of Champaign’s Office of Equity, Community and Human Rights. Everyone is welcome. We’ll also stream this on the Illinois Public Media Facebook page.
Moline: I understand Monday’s News, Brews and Beatz will include a panel of educators?
Hardwick: On Monday night, we’re going to talk with educators who are working overtime to talk with young people and earn their trust to open up about what’s happening in the community regarding the violence. We’ll talk with Dr. Mykah, Jackson, principal at Yankee Ridge Elementary in Urbana; Taren Nance, who is the principal of Urbana High School; Jaime Roundtree, who is principal of the Booker T. Washington STEM Academy in Champaign; and Sonny Walker, Dean of Students at Edison Middle School in Champaign.
Moline: What are you going to ask them about?
Hardwick: I met with all the educators the other day to prepare for Monday’s discussion. They are dealing with so many children who have lost loved ones to violence or witnessed it. They’re tasked with getting the students to focus on their education despite having lost a sibling or a parent. I was struck by one principal telling me that many students ask to stay long after the school day ends because it’s the safest place to be. We’re also going to spend a lot of time talking about parents and resources. These educators are working with parents who may have a bad connection with the education system already or who never stopped working throughout the COVID pandemic. There are parents who show up and ask the educators for help on how to keep their children from joining the cycle of violence.
Moline: Monday’s discussion will be the third discussion. Are you seeing any trends?
Hardwick: Our past News, Brews, and Beatz have included panelists talking about mental health and non-profit groups who are trying to help break the cycle of violence. But it’s becoming clear in our conversations with multiple panelists that some feel that if the C-U community really wants to end the violence… there’s going to have to be a community-wide dedication to more resources for young people.
One of our former panelists Karen Simms quoted the African proverb.. “the child who is not embraced by the village will burn it down to feel its warmth.”
Moline: Besides the panels, what else will be going on in Pour Bros. Taproom?
Hardwick: Before we start, we have a spoken word performance from T-Goddess. Before and after the conversation, people can stay and listen to classic R&B and Hip-hop from DJ I-c-Dre. Thus, why we call it News, Brews, and Beatz. And you can watch speed painter Keith Jacobs, Jr. create art to the music!