For Black History Month, the AFRO presents a series of articles highlighting important local heroes from the archives. This week we spotlight Kwame Rose, a Baltimore native who went from making music to fighting for social change.
Many people are standing up for Baltimore in the aftermath of Freddie Gray’s death last April and Kwame Rose is one of them. Born and raised in Baltimore City, Rose, 21 did not see his life going in this direction, but it seemed that within a split second his life had changed for the better.
After attending University Of Texas at San Antonio on a full ride scholarship, Rose eventually left to do music. Rose was the young black male who saw himself making a name in the music industry. J. Cole is his favorite rapper. “Music was my art form,” said Rose. “It was the first way I learned how to control a narrative.”
Music, not education, was his driver at the time. “School just wasn’t for me…at the time,” said Rose. “I just had no idea what I wanted to do in life so I felt it was best to come home and work with youth. Try to inspire them. Try to find another direction in life. It was no point of wasting a full scholarship If I didn’t know what I was going to do with that scholarship. A college degree does not set you free, it doesn’t determine your intelligence.”
Rose is now a social activist, public speaker, a mentor, and still uses his first love, music, to convey a message through his rooted experience growing up in Baltimore.
Rose didn’t speak out right away once the Freddie Gray incident put Baltimore in the glare of the national spotlight. He took his time and tried to plan a solution, knowing that there needed to be someone who was going to get to the root of the problem.
“Above all else, what we really want is transparency from our leadership,” said Rose. “Whether that be elected officials, whether that be our police commissioner, and we also want our elected officials and our police department to truly reflect the people of Baltimore City. What we need is more engagement with the individuals who are affected by the policy.”
While at a protest one evening, he ended up in the same location as Fox News reporter, Geraldo Rivera. As Rivera was live reporting the riots in Baltimore, Rose felt dismay at the way the city he grew up in was being portrayed.
“Looting is more marketable than a group of individuals who are underdeveloped, underinvested, and who aren’t giving the same access to life,” said Rose.
Rose’s words directed to Rivera on live television went viral and was watched thousands of times on YouTube.
This pushed him to continue to fight for the justice of Freddie Gray, Tyrone West and most importantly a better tomorrow for Baltimore. He believes by doing this it has to start with the youth.
“I don’t think I’ve accomplished anything. Justice has not been brought for Freddie Gray…I think we’re still fighting…It feels great to be fighting in the midst of people geared towards the same end goal and that’s to bring about change in this world and the society. I’m happy I have the opportunity to meet so many young people who are also like-minded individuals and just build with them.”
Rose started an organizational movement titled the “BE Foundation.” His mission is to create change for the young individuals who want it most.
“It’s a process, but it’s going great,” said Rose. “We are doing this tour right now meeting with young people trying to inspire them to change and be a positive hope for society.”
Since this Jan. Rose has been involved with his speaking tour where he hosts events and meeting with young leaders across the nation who are seeking change within their local community as much as he is. “The main goal at this speaking tour is to constantly inspire as many individuals as possible, to meet with them and build, and also share my experiences on how we can achieve success in this whole planet,” said Rose.
Rose has already spoken at Tulane University, Xavier University, Loyola University, Towson University, University of Baltimore and University of Maryland; He will soon visit Lone Star College, University of Texas and Midwestern State University.
Outside of Rose hosting his speaking tour, he is also involved in a mentoring group held in Baltimore called, “Brothers In Action.”
Rose is also working on a new album right now. “It’s kind of hard you know because people mainly know me as an activist as opposed to an artist. My main goal is to inspire youth and become an advocate for social change through an artistic expression.”