Memphis rapper NLE Choppa speaks at a youth town hall event at the church
Memphis rapper NLE Choppa headlined a town hall at a downtown church on Saturday afternoon, aiming to give the city’s youth an opportunity to voice their opinions on improving the city.
Non-profit Crowned black men hosted the “Speak Up with NLE Choppa” town hall at the Light of Glory International Church, 225 Exchange Ave., in downtown Memphis. About 100 people attended the nearly three-hour event at the church sanctuary, the majority of whom were middle and high school students from the Memphis area.
“When you talk about youth, I feel like I’m part of it myself, I’m 19,” said Choppa, also known as Bryson Potts. “I haven’t even turned 21 yet. When we talk about youth, it is the future. In a few years, they will be adults.
The town hall focused on key community issues such as communication between the young and the older generation, Memphis’ crime rate and mental health. Black Men Crowned and Choppa’s goal was to uplift and encourage the young people who attended Saturday’s event.
The town hall had nine other panelists, including State Sen. London Lamar (D-Memphis), Choppa’s mother and principal, Angeleta Potts, and two students from Memphis. Interested parents and educators have pre-registered their students aged 12-18 for the limited-seat event.
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Launched in 2021, Black Men Crowned is a nonprofit “dedicated to honoring, celebrating and empowering black men in the city of Memphis while uniquely designing a space to shape our youth to become productive citizens. in their communities”.
For Black Men Crowned, Saturday’s town hall represented the start of a conversation about these issues as they are not ones that will be resolved overnight or in the immediate future.
“It’s going to take time, it’s going to take a lot of hard work,” Black Men Crowned CEO Justin Hart said. “But I really believe this town hall is the first step in the right direction to create a positive image that we want to see.”
Memphis students spoke about struggles and areas where they want to see increased change in the future. Some of these points included finding more spaces for youth activities, dealing with positive and negative peer pressure, and better daily communication with members of their household.
“A wise brother told me that the problem between the older generation and the younger (generation) is humility,” said De’Aree Harris at Middle College High School. “The younger generation we live in these days, so we think we have the answer, but the older generation says we did this, young cat, we have the answer. If we can’t listen to ourselves with the heart condition of humility, then we’re going to be stuck right where we are. I think to do that, we have to work on ourselves.
Choppa, who is a parent of a young girl, said establishing a friendship between a child and a parent can be a way to improve that dynamic. He said it’s because most young people tell their friends things they wouldn’t necessarily tell their parents.
“If you’re a friend of your child, he won’t hesitate to tell you anything,” Choppa said. “Once you are able to come see your mother as a friend, a lot of things in terms of communication will go better. It will bridge the gap” between the generations.
Saturday’s town hall also included a discussion of changing the narrative around “whistleblowing,” particularly as it relates to crime.
Lamar said the black community needs to change its thinking about snitches, which makes people feel “lame” because not reporting incidents only makes the community less safe.
She also pointed out how many people had sent in anonymous information as part of the investigation into the death of late Memphis rapper Young Dolph last November.
“Find someone you can trust,” Lamar said. “Your teachers are not your enemies. Your constituents are not your enemies. They are in these roles to protect you. If you don’t tell them, bad things will continue to happen.
At the end of the event, Shelby County Commissioner Eddie Jones presented Choppa with a special proclamation for his community service over the past few years.
Omer Yusuf covers the Ford Project in Haywood County, residential real estate, tourism and banking for The Commercial Appeal. He can be contacted by email. [email protected] or follow on Twitter @OmerAYusuf.