By Ashley Chambers
Grammy-award winning hip hop artist, actor, author, and activist Common entertained Oakland with his optimism and a motivational performance as the host of AT&T’s 28 Days Speaker Series at the Scottish Rite Center on February 1. Joined by the acclaimed actress, author, philanthropist, wife and mother Holly Robinson Peete, the energy in the theatre that night was breathtaking.
In anticipation of Common’s performance off his album, The Dreamer The Believer, and Peete’s motivating presentation, attendees socialized and rocked to some rap and R&B beats played by KMEL DJ Benzo prior to the event. Attendees also entertained the AT&T digital lounge, browsing products and expressing their own personal reflections on Black history.
As actress Peete took the stage telling her story along with poignant chronicles of African American history, her enthusiasm and humor matched that of the audience.
The Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper actress said, “African Americans that we know who have been so amazing in our history never sought out to be, you know, in a movie. The Tuskegee Airmen didn’t say, ‘Oh I hope one day Denzel Washington plays me in a movie.’ We wouldn’t even have to tell the story of Red Tails if that had been part of our history as Americans all the time. It’s important that we keep these stories alive.”
Peete’s story also included a personal video presentation of her autistic son, Rodney, and how he beat the odds, like saying I love you, after doctors said he may not be able to say it again. This set the tone for profound discussion as professionals in mental health, media, and entertainment industries raised questions and concerns with issues of mental health in the black community.
Peete inspired many with her unique story of perseverance and philanthropy, saying, “We have these 28 days but Black history is American history and we have to make sure that we remember that.”
As Common moved dreamers and believers in the crowd with “Blue Sky”, he was also inspired. “I get inspired by coming here and seeing the heart of the people, I see people that want to accomplish some things and want to move forward.”
“When Martin Luther King said he had a dream that was his vision for this country; that was his vision for this world to be better. You have to have a vision and then believing in that vision is what we all need to do to accomplish those dreams. Being apart of AT&T 28 Days is really about that. I think The Dreamer, The Believer is really the soundtrack to that inspiration,” the Grammy award winner said.
Loretta Walker, AT&T Vice President of External Affairs, added, “It’s a program that revolves, so not only is it on the website, but you can review all of the different series that are in different cities. It’s a viral effect, the ability to interact with others who are tweeting about it.”
You can visit www.att.com/thebridge to stay engaged.c