Editor’s note: Vel R. Phillips Juvenile Justice Center School provides educational services to all Milwaukee County youths who are placed in secure detention by the Wisconsin juvenile court system.
Local filmmaker Marquise Mays recently visited Vel Phillips to meet with Milwaukee County Accountability Program students. The visit was arranged by Ms. Kirchman, the school’s Instructional Coach of Literacy, Equity and Engagement.
Mays has made films about his hometown. He grew up in Milwaukee, moved to Los Angeles, then returned to his home city. When he returned, he sought to make films about Milwaukee. His goal is to make people proud of Milwaukee. The next film he is working on tells about gun violence from the perspective of children.
His most recent film, “The Heartland,” is about pride. “The Heartland” tells about challenges of Black Milwaukeeans from the perspective of children after they’ve grown into young adults. The film puts a mirror on the community so others can relate to it, seeing the realness and greatness, but also the problems suffered because of racism and unfair policies.
The students were asked about the film.
What did you think about Marquise Mays and his movie “The Heartland”?
He is a really cool dude. He’s intelligent. He also has a passion for his work and loves it. I also really appreciated his movie because it is about our city, where I was born and raised. Also, it is well made, and the people in it are well spoken with their words. -JW
If you made your own movie about Milwaukee, what would be in it?
If I made a movie about Milwaukee, I would expose those who are oppressing and racist. I would show people that play a part in a bigger game that’s designed to keep us under.
I would show how we are not just as people, but as a community. But my community needs to come together and stand up not to be factory workers, but the kings and queens we were made to be. We need to be heard. -SB
What did you learn from Mays?
I learned even people with slightly different stories show how little has changed. Where you live is where you die just as the generation before you. Some folks don’t understand and don’t want to understand. They just give a fake side.
The movie inspired that we need to push harder for history that’s not always made clear and yet is hidden to us. Our protests are not riots; our conversations are not arguments. -SB
Young talent materializing in Milwaukee
On his visit, Mays pointed out that Milwaukee has many young creative talents who are fueling projects and stories to showcase our city. In addition to Mays, Nyesha Stone edits the Carvd N Stone blog to bring good news to the city. Rappers from Milwaukee include IshDARR, Coo Coo Cal, Rico Love, Gerald Walker and Lakeyah Danaee.
Vel Phillips Juvenile Justice Center School boasts lots of young talent as well. Below, our MCAP students share their talents.
ET: I’m a great influencer, rapper, dancer, writer and teacher of young men. A lot of young men would follow my footsteps. I can encourage young men to do the right thing. I can take what I learned and help others apply the same lessons to their lives. And I can do this through my creativity and talent, through my words that I know can reach people the same way that they reached me.
HA: I’m good at drawing and painting. I want to help people be something in life.
DA: I like to rap, play basketball, play football. I like to show people how to do these things.
PJ: One of my talents is football. I also like to draw and be part of the newspaper. I also like to talk with others. I’ve learned a lot at Vel Phillips, so hopefully I can try some of these skills on the outs.
KJ: I am a young and creative talent because I can read, write and speak really well. I’m also a good listener and learner. I have perfect spelling. I am a fast runner with stamina. I’m a good basketball and football player.
DJ: I want to be a preacher and tell young kids that high speeds are not a good option. People can end up dead. I will try to convince people there is a God, and God is good. I want to find other opportunities to speak to others. I’m a good speaker.
EP: I want to be a personal trainer. I am talented in helping people with this. I want people to work out and get strong. I also want to show people it is fun and rewarding to work out. I want to lead people to a healthier, fit life as a personal trainer.
JW: I am a young talent in Milwaukee because I can draw pretty much anything you name.
I can really make it as an artist. Also, I want to go to school so I can master my skills and get better and better, so I can succeed as a creative young man from Milwaukee.
TC: I’m creative. I can hoop to the highest level. I can become a business owner and sell houses because I’m good at negotiating the right deal for someone’s interest.
JW: I’m interested in real estate because I always wanted to own houses and other things since I was young. It’s good money and a good business to be in. I will be helping people by renting houses at prices we both can agree on.
SL: I can use my insightful writing. I am capable of explaining and detailing a story better than the average individual. I can share my writing skills with others to provide them with the same skills as me.
I also thrive in song writing because of my exquisite vocabulary. If I continue, I may be able to take a career as a journalist, song writer or author. To have these talents is to have a second voice; and I will use it.
The full “Vel’s Voice” newsletter for May, including this article and more student work, can be read here.
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