WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Larry Barron grips the microphone and strings together a series of words at the Ramkat, a club in Winston-Salem.
He is part of a generation that grew up idolizing rappers and hip hop artists like Tupac Shakur and Jay-Z. Larry’s tastes were a little more … common.
“On the hip hop side, I was a Common, Mos Def, Andre 3000 but just overall music,” Larry said. “Believe it or not, I was a Nickleback fan in middle school.”
He performs under the name LB the Poet and does have big dreams for his future but first, there is work to take care of at home, helping kids achieve excellence – their own, personal Harvard, as LB puts it.
“Unifying the community from the ‘hood to Harvard, wherever your ‘hood or Harvard is. A lot of times growing up, you put Harvard up here,” says LB as he raises his left hand above his head. “And you think it is unattainable but I want to unify the community in between people and show people there’s really not that much of a difference between us.”
He does that by working with kids from middle school through high school all the way to college. He runs poetry clinics that are more than just a diversion or a bit of art. LB’s lesson is that language helps you succeed in life.
It gives kids “confidence, the ability to express and know how to relay what they want to say,” he said. His quick answer to kids who want to resort to violence to settle disputes: “Don’t get loud, create a better argument.”
He’s seen that it really works.
“In high school or even middle school, working with these students, sometimes they don’t know how to get out what they want to say to one another so they often end up,” and here, LB throws his hands in the air, as if he’s frustrated. “Ahhhhh!” he yells.
“And if you can teach them how to express without anger without emotions – keeping in mind that emotions are involved – but understanding that you have to listen and not talk at someone you speak with them,” then so much of the anger is deescalated.
But it’s really all a tool to higher aims.
“That’s kind of what I use this time (in school with the kids) to instill is the positive affirmations: understanding who you really are, setting goals and running through them,” LB says.
See LB do his own music as well as working with the kids in this edition of the Buckley Report.