Wed 12/12 @ 9AM-1PM
Next year marks the 55thanniversary of Bob Dylan’s landmark release “The Times They Are A-Changin’.” It’s the hope today’s youth will provide a better tomorrow when it comes to diversity and acceptance in the world that fuels Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage’s annual “Stop the Hate” program.
One part of that initiative is called “Youth Sing Out,” which takes place December 12 at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. The Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage, Roots of American Music (ROAM) and the Rock Hall host performances by Northeast Ohio high school students who have been working with teaching artists to compose original songs, many of which are about bullying, the refugee crisis, racism and drug abuse.
The winning high school class will receive $5,000 for their school. The event is free and open to the public on the Rock Hall’s Klipsch Main Stage on the lobby level.
“There are two parts to the ‘Stop the Hate’ contest,” says Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage Director of External Relations Dahlia Fisher. “Part one is a songwriting competition for both middle and high school students, while part two is an essay writing competition also for middle and high school students.
“Both have performance elements, but they’re different in that the songwriting competition, which is known as ‘Youth Sing Out,’ is for school classrooms. The essay writing competition, ‘Youth Speak Out,’ is for grades six to 12 to submit individually. Schools and classrooms do participate and build the essay writing into their curriculum, but when students write and submit their essays they do so as individuals.”
Each year more than 1,000 students participate in a “Stop the Hate Tour” at the Maltz Museum where they absorb what they’ve learned, reflect on what bias and discrimination looks like in their own lives and later discuss in class.
From there, some create original songs that Fisher described as being nothing short of incredible.
“These young people have stories to tell — about the kind of world they want to live in, about the violence they see in their own lives and how they want to see it end,” Fisher says. “When they come to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to perform their songs in front of a panel of judges, they also learn about the power of music in protest.”
As for “Youth Speak Out,” this is the 11thyear the Maltz Museum has held the essay contest with annually more than 3,000 students participating. Over the last decade, $1 million in scholarship and anti-bias education grants have been awarded to students and schools.
The top 10 finalists are invited to share their essays during an annual award ceremony that is free and open to the public scheduled for March 14 at the Cleveland Museum of Art.
“Students are given a platform to reflect on intolerance and bias they experience in their own lives and express their ideas on what they are doing to effect change in their schools and communities in a 500-word ‘Stop the Hate’ essay,” Fisher says.
“What we learn by reading these essays is that hate has no boundaries. Students are dealing with serious issues of intolerance, bigotry and bias. They deserve an outlet to stand up and speak out. Each in their own way, they’re working to ‘Stop the Hate.’ Their experiences matter. Their words matter. These students are our future leaders. Hearing from them gives us hope.”