Victory Over Violence: Sankofa Fest 2019

Victory Over Violence

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — If you drive down the South Salina Street Corridor, you will see flags lining the street that say “Sankofa District.” This weekend, the community will celebrate Sankofa Fest within the corridor to celebrate new businesses and developments on Syracuse’s South Side.

One of the performers at Saturday’s festival is Truth Speaker, The Voice of the Youth.

“I come from a poverty-stricken environment and sometimes it is hard to go in the right direction when you see all negativity around you, so I made a decision to change the paradigm,” said Truth Speaker, whose name is Mahkai Bailey.

Truth Speaker’s lyrics tell the story of someone who grew up on the south side of Syracuse and focused on avoiding violence and doing the right thing.

“We have to start listening to each other, stop fearing each other. I shouldn’t be afraid to walk down my own block,” Truth Speaker said.

He fights back through music, using knowledge and truth as weapons to stop the violence and empower his community. That message will take center stage this Saturday as hundreds fill Sankofa Park on South Salina Street, for Sankofa Fest. It is a day that Shante Harris El, the president of the Southside Community Coalition, hopes will show the re-birth and vibrancy of the South Salina corridor.

“We do realize it had taken a downfall since the ’60s and ’70s and we wanted to get back to that when there were businesses that lined South Salina Street and there was a lot of culture there,” said Harris El.

That’s the idea behind the Sankofa District, which means go back and reclaim. For the past several years, Harris El and other community members have brought in new businesses and promoted ownership, to revitalize Syracuse and change the narrative of Syracuse’s south side. Through music, spoken word and financial literacy classes, the community hopes to show how the Sankofa District is the heartbeat of the city.

To learn more about the festival that will take place at Sankofa Park, click here.


For more local news, follow Jennifer Sanders on Twitter @JSandersNC9

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