MSV’s Yolo Akili Receives Creative Leadership Award

Yolo Akili, facilitator and trainer at Men Stopping Violence (MSV), received the Creative Leadership Award at the Feminist Women’s Health Center’s “Stand Up for Justice” gala. For him, art, activism and education are all threads in the tapestry of his life’s work.

“For me, it’s all the same work,” he says. “MSV is dedicated to helping to create safer communities for women and all human beings. I share that same goal when I’m performing my poetry, yoga and activist commitments.”

Akili, who helps teach two classes and directs the internship and mentor training programs, joined MSV in 2008, the same year he completed the organization’s internship.

“I had been involved with gender-based activism for some time, so when I found out that MSV’s work with men was based on feminist principles, I was very excited. I reached out to MSV and things just meshed. The rest is history!”

MSV’s philosophy of guiding men to embrace their full humanity as a way of modifying behavior was also appealing.

“So often the field of domestic violence can be a space where unhealthy masculinity is critiqued, but rarely a place where healthy masculinity is modeled and men are given tools in which to shape and define this for themselves,” he said. “MSV is unique in that it takes an approach centered in self-awareness and not self-abnegation.”

In addition to his work with MSV, Akili is a well-known poet who is the author of “Poems in the Key of Green” and the new spoken-word recording “Purple Galaxy.”

The Men Stopping Violence 2009 Annual Awards Dinner O’Brien, Byrd, Harper Noted for Efforts to Address Violence Against Women

The ballroom of The Ritz-Carlton Atlanta gleamed on the evening of October 17, 2009, and the smiles of Men Stopping Violence’s (MSV) friends and allies were no less bright as they arrived to honor three people who have proven their commitment to working for safety and justice for women.

“I look at this as a call to action,” said Hill Harper, recipient of the True Ally Award. “I think it’s time for us to start having uncomfortable conversations as men.” Harper, an author and actor who is one of the stars of the CBS show “CSI:NY,” followed attorney Judith O’Brien, recipient of the Kathleen Carlin Justice Seekers Award, and scholar Dr. Rudolph P. Byrd, recipient of the inaugural Dick Bathrick Award, to the stage.

Approximately 300 people attended the Annual Awards Dinner. Other presenters and special guests included Dr. Johnnetta Betsch Cole, emcee Richelle Carey, and presenters India Arie, Dr. Beverly Guy-Sheftall, and Steve Gottlieb.

Highlights of the evening included:

  • Award recipient Judith O’Brien reminiscing about MSV co-founder Kathleen Carlin and her commitment to justice for women.
  • Members of MSV’s Community Restoration Program taking the stage, with member Shyam Sriram speaking about the difference that MSV has made in his life and work.
  • The live auction of a “CSI:NY” package: a trip that featured a visit to the Los Angeles set of the hit CBS show, round-trip airfare, accommodations, and memorabilia. Hill Harper leapt to the stage twice to egg on the bidders, throwing in lunch with him on the set and a second package. Two fortunate bidders secured these coveted items.

Co-founder of Zambian Center Spends Month Training at MSV

Stephen Bwala Mbati, one of the founders of the Zambia Men’s Resource Centre (ZAMREC) in Lusaka, Zambia, spent four weeks in summer 2008 working with Men Stopping Violence (MSV) trainers and facilitators.

ZAMREC was established by Mbati and co-founder Stanislaus Phiri to work with men to address violence against women. Previously, Mbati worked for the YWCA, overseeing the main drop-in center, where women came to seek assistance and shelter.

“Battered women would come, sometimes with their children,” he said. “Any problem they brought in had a complement of abuse.”

Mbati said that in 2004 he and Phiri began working on a men’s network to address male batterers. The result was the establishment of ZAMREC in 2007, which is independent of the YWCA but continues to collaborate with that organization.

“We’ve been building structures,” said Mbati. That building phase, he said, includes looking for funding, and both conducting and participating in training, locally and internationally.

While working with MSV, Mbati attended Men’s Education Program classes, participated in the Summer Seminar Series, and met with men who are working with the organization. He said that the experience helped reinforce his plans for ZAMREC and that he learned valuable lessons about organizing programs and partnerships.

The Art of Change Benefit Acknowledges Work of MSV Co-Founder

The Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta became a repository for music, movement, musings and memories as the Men Stopping Violence (MSV) community of allies gathered for its second annual benefit to pay tribute to co-founder Dick Bathrick, who will be leaving the organization at year-end.

MSV’s benefit concert featured singer and songwriter Doria Roberts, The Chorus of Bet Haverim, Old Enough to Know Better, percussion emsemble Sehwe Village, and spoken-word artists Yolo Akili and Theresa Davis. The show was emceed by Khaatim Sherrer El and Leslie Fredman. Pine River Psychotherapy Associates provided financial support for the event.

Bathrick will continue justice-making and anti-violence activities through his private counseling practice and his work with various groups, both locally and nationally.

V103 Hosted Stop the Bullying…Stop the Violence Town Hall

February 9, 2011 was National Stop the Bullying Day. Atlanta’s Ryan Cameron of V103 hosted a bullying town hall meeting.

Bullying is a growing problem for youth in elementary, middle and high schools. Raising awareness about bullies and techniques they use is becoming a major necessity in promoting teen safety. National statistics show that one-third of teens reported being bullied at school in 2009. The same study further demonstrated that most bullying occurs INSIDE schools. Yet only two out of 3 incidents of bullying are not reported. Females and white students report the highest incidence of bullying; and 44% of middle schools studied reported bullying. The statistics are astounding and fully link bullying to other related problems like sexual harassment and racial/ethnic tensions. Bullying is the way in which young people, particularly boys, use violence and the threat of violence to ensure that other children conform to social “norms”. Often these norms are gender specific, i.e., boys who are too much like girls get bullied and girls who are not girly enough get bullied.

For 2 hours V103 stopped playing music on February 9th to honor the IMPORTANCE OF THE SUBJECT AND TO ADDRESS THE IMPACT OF BULLYING AND SCHOOL VIOLENCE, providing education to prevent bullying and a resource guide to possible victims of bullies. The town hall was well attended with about 200 interested students, parents and concerned citizens participating. Featured guests included the Anti-Defamation League, Monique Rivarde, the mother of Bobby Tillman, the teen who was beaten to death, and the mother of Jaheem Herrera, the 11 year old who committed suicide after being bullied regularly in school. Bernard Ellis, MSV ‘s Men’s Education Coordinator, attended the town hall. Stopping the violence in schools and elsewhere is important to make sure this behavior is not perpetuated or escalated. A follow-up rally was held Saturday, March 5, 2011 from 12 am until 2 pm at the BEST Academy on Donald Lee Holloway Parkway.