Makers and Shakers: Using Art and Tech to Disrupt and Inspire Change for Racial Equity

January’s Momentum meetup focused on the role art and technology can play in identifying and overcoming racial inequalities.  This Momentum meetup was moderated by Ryan Schmaltz, Director of UNCSA’s Media and Emerging Technology Lab (METL) and Mentor to participants of CCE’s Velocity Accelerator.  This powerful and inspiring discussion was led by Larry Barron “LB the poet”, founder of Word Academy in Winston-Salem, NC and Glenn Cantave, founder of Movers and Shakers in New York City.  

Glenn Cantave

Our two panelists are working to break down and create a sense of positive change around racial inequality through creativity.  LB uses poetry as his vehicle for change.  His creativity began at the age of 12 when his principal encouraged him to express feelings in writing after an emotional time in his life. Her reactions to his attempt ignited a spark that became his springboard into poetry. And today, LB uses his incredible gifts to provide a therapeutic outlet for youth and catalyze literacy education.  He believes poetry is one of the most powerful art forms which uses words to relate to people.  Another pivotal experience occurred when Maya Angelou visited LB’s school.  He recognized how she utilized words to empower people, and also as an avenue to speak out about controversial subjects. LB infuses the power of his words to shape and motivate the minds of youth while creating a universal platform for poets and nonpoets alike to express their truths.   

LB has also recently founded the FEAR Academy (Future Entrepreneurs Activating Reality).  He inspires young people to not only create art, but to develop business skills, and think like entrepreneurs as they develop their creative ideas.    

LB The Poet

Glenn is a performance artist, activist, social entrepreneur and founder of Movers and Shakers NYC.  His work uses immersive technology to shed light on the oppressed.  He and his team create interactive images via augmented reality to disrupt and reframe social norms in the classroom, cultural institutions and public spaces.  The goal of their work is to bring more equitable representations of diverse cultures into the classroom.  Augmented reality superimposes the visual world into a digital world via technology.  Glenn sees art as the entry point to education.  The wow factor of AR draws kids into history and exposes them to legendary characters in a totally new way.  Glenn finds that using AR technology “takes the labor out of learning” and reaches kids that previously had no interest in history.  The immersive experience provides an exciting incentive to explore the story.  Movers and Shakers promotes positivity in their work by teaching youth of color about people that look like them and empowering them to appreciate and embrace their value.   

Movers and Shakers will be producing their augmented reality work in Winston Salem this Spring as part of the Ideas City WS festival.  They are currently seeking nominations for important figures in Winston Salem history that are African American, or people of color.  You can nominate a person for this project at this link. 

The Center for Creative Economy is grateful to our panelists and moderator for an engaging and inspiring conversation. Momentum returns on February 18th focusing on The When, Where, and How of Effective Video led by Seth Wingate and Adam Flasch of Twin City Media.  Join us!

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