By Arri & Byler Henry, Generation Next
Over 400 high school students from across Miami-Dade County, filled the seats of the Lou Rauls Auditorium at Florida Memorial University on Friday, Jan. 13, 2017 to kick off Zo’s Winter Groove Weekend! Miami Heat Legend and NBA Hall of Famer Alonzo Mourning and an esteem group of panelists engaged with these students about the effects of social media, the current state of hip hop music and other pertinent issues affecting their generation during this Third Annual Youth Groove Summit. Facilitated by motivational speaker and author, Terri Crook, students were allowed to use the mic to expose their thoughts and truths openly.
“The lyrics in today’s popular songs change our subconscious mind,” admits Starr Alfonso, a junior at Hialeah High School.
The panel focused on steering kids away from the negative perceptions that today’s music can bring. One question aimed at the panelists addressed who is responsible for what is being played on the airwaves? The radio stations are in a tough spot because they have to play what the masses want to hear to keep a job. The panelists described the situation perfectly, adding that the record labels are partially responsible. “They don’t pay their rappers to put out A level messages.”
Many of the students confessed that they pay more attention to the beat of the music versus the lyrical content allowing Zo and his team to acknowledge the important of separating entertainment from reality for those who do allow the music to sway their thoughts or actions.
“Our President [Barack Obama] is a fan of hip hop music but it’s all about balance,” Mourning calmly tells his attentive young audience in his iconic raspy tone. “If you educate yourself enough, you’ll understand that [trap] music doesn’t reflect your life. Your education will create other options for you and overpower any lyrics that tell you to do/sell drugs, steal or disrespect women.”
During a dialogue about social media being a ‘weapon of mass distraction’, Tracy Mourning, Zo’s astute and ravishing wife reveals, “the worst mistakes you can make happen when you are led by ego.” She recognizes that this current generation lacks love and respect for each other when it comes to bullying and exploiting others via social media. The panel and the audience agreed that not every situation is worth ‘likes’ or sharing online.
Wild N’ Out comedian Darren Brand with his interactive improvisational skits was a hit at the youth summit, giving the students an opportunity to have some much needed fun aside from the serious conversations. The panel ended in prayer, led by Koryn Hawthorn, Season 8 finalist of the Voice, hoping to inspire participants to move forward in love. Students then enjoyed a catered lunch at the University’s Ballroom with 99 Jamz.
On Saturday, the Mournings hosted their Family Health and Wellness Groove, a fun day/5k event offering free health screenings, athletic activities and fun for the whole family.
Comedian and actor Gary Owen flabbergasted and amused attendees Sunday at the Comedic Groove with jokes ranging from President-elect Donald Trump to his experiences being married to a Black woman. Saxophonist extraordinaire Mike Phillips brought down the house at the comedy show hosted by DJ Irie at the beautiful JW Marriott Marquis in Miami. This VIP event aids with raising funds for Mourning’s philanthropic efforts. Mayor Wayne Messam, of Miramar, was in attendance and remarked, “Supplying the resources to empower our youth is the best thing we can do.”
The Mourning Family Foundation’s programs (Overtown Youth Center and Honey Shine, Inc.) served over 700 students residing in South Florida ranging from ages 8 to 25. The Groove provides monetary support to both the Overtown Youth Center and Honey Shine, Inc.
For more information on how to contribute to their cause, please visit www.mourningfamilyfoundation.org/