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.”