Lyric is a 17 year old singer, songwriter, petitioner for non-partisan elections and youth leader, born and raised in New York City and Norwich, Connecticut. He is a participant in Dr. Lenora Fulani’s “Operation Conversation: Cops & Kids”. Reach him at G_Pedraza93@yahoo.com
I’ve always gravitated toward controversy. All throughout school, from kindergarten to 11th grade, (I’m entering 12th in the fall) I’ve always been the one to say things that are taboo, while others keep their thoughts to themselves. It’s fun. I was born to be an entertainer, born to be on stage, born to demand attention. I guess it’s quite vain, but in the end I believe every artist that displays their work is. If not, they always have the choice of keeping their art from sight. Nobody asks them to put it on a stage for all to see and admire. But before I was good enough to really entertain an audience, I simply said things that would stop people in their tracks. It was my way of getting attention. It wasn’t until a year ago that I realized there’s no point in attracting attention, if you don’t do anything with it. Along with that, I was getting quite good at my art form. Without knowing still why I was going to attract attention, I decided to dedicate 100% of my time to my growth as an artist.
One of the things I do is perform publicly as often as I can, using anyplace as a resource. I look up talent shows, showcases, churches, and even sing in train stations. Anywhere where there are people, whether they are going to listen or not. Through this work I met the All Stars Talent Show Network, co-founded by America’s leading Black independent, Dr. Lenora Fulani. I figured “just another gig.” Although any gig for me is never “just another gig”, I didn’t think anything special of the All Stars Project. When I started getting more involved with the All Stars Project, I found that not only were they giving young people like me a stage to perform on, they were also controversial. BINGO. My favorite kind of people! And why were they controversial? Because they were successfully standing up for something that was in dire need, and still is, of support: Youth growth and development.
I had finally found a place that was (1) giving me a platform to perform and expose New York City to a new kind of artist, (2) was controversial, and (3), had a good reason to be so. I was in the right place. I remembered the first time I met Dr. Fulani. She was walking past my table at the 2009 All Stars Project National Benefit Gala. A woman I was talking to at the table stopped her to say hello, and introduced me to her. She was one of the very few people in the entire world that didn’t introduce herself to me like I was any lower in status, less important or even younger than her, when I absolutely was all three. She introduced herself to me as if I was a very serious business partner, an equally powerful and sought out human being. At the same time, as brief as her handshake was, I could tell by her look and demeanor, and almost instant analyzation of me it seemed, that she was an extremely intelligent, stern, no bullshit person. (To this day, she hasn’t defied my first impression.)
A year later, Dr. Fulani asked me to help lobby for nonpartisan elections. And so I thought: If this was the woman who both co-founded an organization that is the most successful after school program in the nation 28 years ago, and won the Grassroots Educator of the Year Award the first night I met her, I can’t think of anyone better, or of any issue more important to support with her than Non-Partisan Elections. And I did.
I collected 97 signatures at my school for an open letter young people of New York City presented to the Charter Revision Commission. While collecting signatures I realized that the people who support this cause are people who feel they have been cheated out of the political system by the conventions laid out by major parties. They look at the Independence Party as the place to go that will not leave the people out of making decisions that will affect the people. That’s democracy.
How did I become an independent? By realizing that I’m going to stick by people that will stick by me: Youth activism and Democracy based leadership is what I stand for, as does the NYC Independence Party.