The Global Media Center for Social Impact at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health presents the Los Angeles premiere of "Lyrics From Lockdown: One Man. One Mic. 40 Characters" by acclaimed actor, author and hip-hop artist Bryonn Bain. The performance takes place Tuesday, May 6, at 8 p.m. in UCLA's Schoenberg Hall.
In "Lyrics From Lockdown," Bain weaves together spoken word, calypso, classical music and the voices of more than 40 characters to tell the story of his own wrongful imprisonment and to explore the issue of widespread racial profiling and mass incarceration in the United States.
Bain, a Nuyorican Grand Slam Poetry Champion, was wrongfully arrested and jailed by the New York Police Department in 1999, when he was in his second year at Harvard Law School. He later sued the police department and won. He has given performances and lectured on hip-hop, spoken word and the prison crisis at more than 100 college campuses and correctional facilities nationwide.
"Storytelling may be the most powerful way to shine light on the epidemic of mass incarceration ravaging families nationwide," said Sandra de Castro Buffington, founding director of the Global Media Center for Social Impact. "Bryonn Bain delivers the truth and potential solutions to this critical public health issue through compelling stories of real people."
Bain's performance is open to the public. Tickets will be available through the UCLA Central Ticket Office.
"Mass incarceration is like a virus," said Neal Baer, executive producer of the "Under the Dome" series on CBS and project scientist at the Global Media Center for Social Impact. "The factors that lower the immune system include violence, poverty, homelessness, mental illness, substance abuse, dropping out of school and joblessness. The time to stop the virus is now."
Harry Belafonte, executive producer of "Lyrics From Lockdown," said, "Shortly after producing the film 'Beat Street,' in the years that followed, I grew frustrated with hip-hop. I was disillusioned by how many artists have turned their backs on social responsibility. The world needs to see how Bryonn Bain's 'Lyrics From Lockdown' carries the tradition of joining art and activism as an instrument for justice — at a time when the prison system has our communities in crisis."
At the invitation of the Fielding School of Public Health, Bain will also give a "Grand Rounds" talk for students, faculty and alumni at the school on Wednesday, May 7, where he will present the Bill of Rights for Returning Citizens and discuss mass incarceration as a public health issue.
In addition to the Bryonn Bain events, the Global Media Center for Social Impact, with support from the Nathan Cummings Foundation, is sponsoring a full series of events to spotlight prison reform as a public health issue.
On Thursday, May 1, the center will screen the Sundance Grand Jury Prize–winning documentary "The House I Live In" at UCLA's De Neve Auditorium at 5 p.m. The film explores the devastating cultural, economic and political consequences of America's 40-year "war on drugs." This free screening for the UCLA community will be followed by a discussion with the filmmakers.
In a special offering for the creative community, the center has organized a May 7 panel at the Writers Guild of America–West titled "12 More Years a Slave: Is Mass Incarceration the New Slavery?" The panel brings together experts, artists, community activists and entertainment industry professionals to discuss the realities of life behind bars and the experiences of formerly incarcerated citizens.
The Global Media Center for Social Impact (GMI) inspires and informs compelling storylines on topics of social value in film, television, music and new media. It serves as a free resource to the entertainment industry by connecting filmmakers, writers and other industry professionals to experts and community resources that can enrich their work on issues such as health, environment, immigration, prison reform, racial justice, LGBT/gender equality and more.
The Fielding School of Public Health, founded in 1961, is dedicated to enhancing the public's health by conducting innovative research, training future leaders and health professionals from diverse backgrounds, translating research into policy and practice, and serving our local communities and the communities of the nation and the world. The school has 650 students from more than 35 nations engaged in carrying out the vision of building healthy futures in greater Los Angeles, California, the nation and the world.