Photo Credit: Melanie L. Brown

Photo Credit: Melanie L. Brown

The Kids Off the Block group under the leadership of Diane Latiker had a 24 Hour Peace Jam. The Peace Jam lasted from 12:00 p.m. to 12:00 p.m. last weekend in the Roseland community, 11623 S. Michigan, Chicago, IL. 60628. The students were recently released from school for summer break and Latiker created the event to help them celebrate without violent acts. The Peace Jam had over 700 people attending within the two days.

The kids and adults enjoyed many activities within the 24 hour format. They had basketball tournaments, open mics, bean bag races, face painting, dance competitions, card games and many other activities. Performances by local artist, choirs, a praise dancer and comedians were presented along with representation from Power 92 radio station. All ages participated in the event. The children received free haircuts in the day and the adults did at night. A masseuse was there to give out massages. Awards were given to people who provided a positive impact in the community and prizes were awarded to those who won the competitions. Vendors and resources were available. At midnight, movies were screened on a huge projector outside.

Food was very unique for an outdoor community event. The big grill was outside grilling hamburgers and other meaty treats. Vegetables were out there as well for a more balanced diet. In the morning, a chef was grilling up steak and egg quesadillas, and chicken and waffles. Huge mixed fruit bowls ,salsa with chips and rice and beans were presented on the tables. Treats like cotton candy and pops were passed out, as well.

The event was multicultural. DJs rotated throughout the 24 hours. Miss Latin of Illinois came out to the event along with the Spanish radio station Radio Vive 750 FM. Moms of all cultures were out to reflect on the loss of their loved ones due to senseless violence. They released balloons in their memory.

The event was free for all. Participants weren’t just from the Roseland community. Politicians, community leaders, activists, churches and many other concerned citizens attended. Latiker was asked why she didn’t invite media outlets to the event. She stated, “We don’t need them to validate us, give their approval or be contacted for being who we ‘really are.'”

Photo Credit: Melanie L. Brown