Saturday, June 14, 2003

Comedian tries to shake up youth

By Kevin Aldridge
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Comedian Earthquake reminded inner-city youth and adults Friday that gun violence is no laughing matter.

The Washington, D.C., native, whose real name is Nathaniel Stroman stopped by barbershops in the West End, Avondale, Evanston and Over-the-Rhine while in town for concert dates today and Sunday at the Este Conference Center. His visit was arranged by a radio station and the Peace Down the Way Coalition as part of an effort to curb urban violence in Cincinnati by reaching out to young African-Americans.

Earthquake, who is building a name on the comedy circuit and currently has a special on Comedy Central, said he wanted to do the barbershop tour because having personal contact with people, particularly youth, can make a difference. Growing up in a troubled area of D.C., the comic said he knows the trials that young people face.

"In growing up, I never knew what I was going to do, but I always knew what I wasn't going to do," Earthquake said about trappings such as crime and drugs.

Earthquake said his message to youth is that "riches come from within and if you keep God first, then you will truly be OK."

The Peace Down the Way Coalition, in cooperation with the station, has arranged for other celebrity entertainers to visit and talk with youth. In March, Trina, a female rap artist, spoke to about 50 kids.

The coalition, made up of about 60 community-based organizations, called for a moratorium on violence on New Year's Day after 2002's 65 homicides. As of Friday night, there have been 32 homicides this year.

The coalition has done a number of projects since then, including a "Peace Over Profit Day" in January, where bars and stores were asked not to sell alcohol, and recently an anti-violence billboard campaign.


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