Creatives need each other. For inspiration, for affirmation, for that unique connection and understanding only fellow creatives can provide. It explains in part why we collaborate, why we make moves together as communicators.
I am drawing fresh, potent inspiration from a man of deep conviction and endless generosity: War Child author, emcee philanthropist and filmmaker Emmanuel Jal. I had the pleasure of being introduced to him by Nefertiti Strong and Richard Pelzer of MEGA Dream, who both told me he wanted to learn more about the business from me. We became instant family, tied by our work and our love for art, our commitment to making people better through understanding and education. When they asked me to support his cause, there was no hesitation. I laced him with a galley of Put Your Dreams First. A week later, he said he was “digging the book and learning a lot”.
After reading his story, I had to do my part to make sure others learned it. I mean, if this brother could lose his family, his village, and his childhood and rise to prominence as an emcee without hoes, bitches or bling, I could support his efforts. I created a Facebook event for his film’s NYC engagement with all the details:
Watch us ring the closing bell of the NY Stock Exchange here:
Joining Emmanuel on the podium from Left to Right – Marva Allen, Owner of Hue-Man Bookstore; Fields Jackson Jr., Founder and CMO of Racing Towards Diversity Magazine; Nefertiti Strong, President and CEO of Catch A Dream Entertainment; Thembisa Mshaka, Author of Handle Your Entertainment Business (in stores April 23rd); Richard E. Pelzer II, President and CEO of MEGA Management Inc; Gail Mckenzie, President of Contact International Inc; Larry Cox, Executive Director of Amnesty International; Larry Liebowitz, Executive Vice-President in Charge of US Markets and Global Technology of NYSE; Emmanuel Jal; Violet Tabor, Executive Director of FACESNY; Jaime Carey, CMO of Barnes and Noble; Sally Richardson, President & Publisher of St. Martin’s Press; Robert Marchman, Chairman of the NYSE Euronext Diversity Council and Executive Vice-President of NYSE Regulation’s Enforcement Division and Lacy DuBose, Agency Fields Executive of State Farm Insurance.
Once a child soldier in his native Sudan, he is now building a school for his decimated village to educate a new generation. He is fasting daily, having only dinner, until the 300,000 EUROS needed is raised. The way he sees it, if 100,000 people give 3 apiece (do the exchange math America, for us it’s closer to 5 bucks), the Leer Academy (named for his village) will be funded.
So don’t wait-here’s another chance to make Black History in the spirit of global citizenship that President Obama embodies. Hit up http://www.emmaueljal.org and support his non-profit, GUA Africa now. His incredible documentary about a harrowing journey from battle to hip-hop and back home to his family after 18 years is playing until February 22 at the George Faison Firehouse in Harlem, definitely catch it if you’ll be in NYC.
I watched the film and his performance on February 12th and was moved beyond measure. His album is a heady mix of African rhythms, rock riffs and operatic vocals that does not disappoint.
You can get the album and memoir of the same name everywhere right now.