Past Event

From the White House to the South Side of Chicago: Can Digital Media Save Young People's Lives?

How can digital media help combat gun violence and other social problems plaguing our youth? And how are youth already taking action via media spaces to organize and amplify their voices in their daily lives? Join us to explore the possibilities of transforming the lives of young people through new media technologies. 

Featuring Cathy Cohen, founder of the Black Youth Project and principal researcher of the Youth & Participatory Politics Survey Project; Biko Baker, Executive Director of the League of Young Voters; Malcolm London, poet and teaching artist at Young Chicago Authors; Martin Macias, media activist and youth organizer at Chicago Fair Trade;  L. Anton Seals Jr. outreach specialist for The Interrupters; Charity Tolliver, organizer with Black on Both Sides; and Claudia Garcia-Rojas, social media fellow at The OpEd Project (moderator). Plus! an opening performance by hip hop artist FM Supreme.

More about the speakers:

The Executive Director of the League of Young Voters, Rob “Biko” Baker is a nationally-recognized young leader. In his home community of Milwaukee, he has organized town hall meetings and used the power and agency of art to inform, mobilize, and motivate young people to participate in civic life. Baker has served as the deputy publicity coordinator and young voter organizer for the Brown and Black Presidential Forum. Baker is a Ph.D. candidate at UCLA, a frequent contributor to The Source, serves on CIRCLE’s research advisory board and is a board member of the New Organizing Institute.

Cathy J. Cohen 
is the David and Mary Winton Green Professor of Political Science. She has served as the Deputy Provost for Graduate Education and is the former Director of the Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture at the University of Chicago. Cohen is the author of two books: Democracy Remixed: Black Youth and the Future of American Politics (Oxford University Press 2010) and The Boundaries of Blackness: AIDS and the Breakdown of Black Politics (University of Chicago Press 1999). Cohen is principal investigator of two major projects: The Black Youth Project and the Mobilization, Change and Political and Civic Engagement Project. Her general field of specialization is American politics, although her research interests include African-American politics, women and politics, lesbian and gay politics, and social movements.

Jessica Disu, 24—a.k.a. FM Supreme—is an international performing poet, Hip Hop artist, MC, activist and motivational speaker. A Chicago native, FM is the two-time champion of “Louder Than A Bomb”, the prestigious Chicago youth poetry slam festival. She continues to support both the Bomb poetry slam and the Brave New Voices as a coach and youth leader. She is the founder of The Chicago International Youth Peace Movement, a co-founder of The Peace Exchange: Chicago-Asia 2013, and the force behind CommonWealth Music Group. On a mission to inspire local and global youth to work for peace, she’s successfully launched the Youth Peace Movement in Chicago and in the United Kingdom. Jessica’s anthem “No Turning Back” is a powerful statement about overcoming barriers to accomplish goals and achieve dreams.

Martin Macias, Jr. is a Chicago native from the southwest side. He is a writer, community organizer, student and journalist. He studies Urban Planning and Public Affairs at UIC where he is building a campaign in support of rights for workers in the collegiate apparel industry.  At the nonprofit Chicago Fair Trade he leads a project that engages Chicago Public high school students in discussions about youth activism, international solidarity and labor rights. Martin also blogs and writes for Extra Newspaper and AREA Chicago.

Claudia Garcia-Rojas is an expert consultant on issues of gender, violence, media, and culture. She has thirteen years of professional experience working as an anti-racism and anti-gender-based violence speaker, activist, organizer, and scholar. She most recently published a Media Toolkit for local and national journalists to better cover the issue of gender-based violence through The Chicago Taskforce on Violence Against Girls and Young Women. Claudia is a music journalist for Gozamos, a contributing writer at Chicago Indy Media, and formerly the editor of AREA Chicago. Claudia was named a 2012 Fulbright Alternate to Morocco. She continues to pursue her interests as the social media fellow at The OpEd Project and as founding member of Liberation Education and Facilitation (LEAF) in Chicago. 

L Anton Seals Jr. has an extensive community organizing, public policy, and media literacy background with focus on housing, local food systems, broadband access, and furthering educational opportunities. Currently serving as the Project Coordinator for the Eat2Live effort in Englewood developing an urban garden and farm. Anton also is part of the creative team that is producing the transmedia project, using story, in particular new media, as a way to connect and heal communities impacted by violence. Anton is also one of the founder of the Revival Arts Collective. You can follow Anton @SonofSeals on Twitter.

Charity Tolliver, organizer with Black on Both Sides, was born and raised in Chicago’s Englewood community and began organizing as a youth member of the Generation Y youth organizing group at its inception in 1996. She became a staff organizer for South West Youth Collaborative after returning from DePaul University with a Black and Diasporic Studies major. Her global reach has included working with organizations in Ghana, South Africa, Thailand and Haiti. She co-founded the Black Diasporic Project , which worked to connect the struggle of Black American youth to the stuggle and history of Haitian peoples. She is currently on Sabbatical as an Alston Bannerman fellow.

This series is made possible in part by the generous support of the McCormick Foundation’s journalism program. 

Presented by The Public Square, Black Youth Project, Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture, Chicago Votes, and WBEZ/Chicago Public Media

Community co-sponsors include: Community Media Workshop, Chicago Youth Voices Network, Free Spirit Media, Kartemquin Films, and Young Chicago Authors





Free and open to the public. Reserve your spot here. For more information please call 312.422.5580.

If you need a sign interpreter or require other arrangements to fully participate, please call 312.422.5580. For parking locations near the facility, please visit