Features

 
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 (Clockwise from left) Members of the youth and adult slam teams "Grim" Jackson, Slangston Hughes, Black Chakra, Kenneth Morrison, Deniero Black, Lady Brion, and MeccaMorphosis hold up the National Poetry Slam trophy.    (J.M. Giordano/City Paper)

(Clockwise from left) Members of the youth and adult slam teams "Grim" Jackson, Slangston Hughes, Black Chakra, Kenneth Morrison, Deniero Black, Lady Brion, and MeccaMorphosis hold up the National Poetry Slam trophy. 

 (J.M. Giordano/City Paper)

Summer Of The Slam

How two fearless Baltimore poetry slam teams took over the nation

Baltimore's youth and adult poetry slam teams have been competing nationally for the last two decades, but this summer, as the city focused on vigils and protests in Lor Scoota and Korryn Gaines' deaths, a Department of Justice report about police discrimination, and the Port Covington controversy, Baltimore's youth and adult poetry slam teams have been quietly crafting their own news: Baltimore teams won two national poetry slam competitions this summer, with the youth poetry slam team placing 1st out of 60 teams and the adult poetry slam team placing 1st out of 74.

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Black Activism, Unchurched

A new generation of young leaders in Baltimore are largely organizing outside of congregations. What does this mean for their movement—and for the Church?

“I don’t think that people give enough credit to the Church or the Church’s involvement,” said Brion Gill, a 25-year-old who describes herself as a poet, organizer, and cultural curator, who is pictured above. But, she said, “the idea that it’s not abundantly clear how many churches are involved in this work speaks to the lack thereof.” There are probably as many views of the Church’s role in activism, and of activism's relationship to religion, as there are activists in Baltimore. But, as Gill observed, the fact that it’s even a question suggests that something once powerful has changed.

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Lady Brion

Serving the Baltimore Community with Spoken Word

Bold. Dedicated. Inspirational. These three words perfectly describe Brion Gill, a UB student, community activist, and spoken word poet known as “Lady Brion.” Inspired by the HBO television series, Def Poetry Jam, she has fearlessly stood on stages voicing her passions and convictions since she was twelve years old. Starting with church events and high school debate teams, Lady Brion’s talent has taken her to London, Ghana, Tanzania, and recently, to the 2015 Individual World Poetry Slam held in Washington, D.C.