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Profiles in Courage: Special Updates on Erica Ford and Dr. Kahil El'Zabar

We are featuring a special update on two of the subjects previously featured in our Profiles in Courage series during Black Writers Week. To view our complete coverage from that week, check out the official table of contents. You can also read our full Profiles in Courage column on Erica Ford here and Dr. Kahil El'Zabar here.

1. ERICA FORD - Visionary Peacemaker 

Erica Ford was chosen as one of five amazing people that we featured in our "Profiles in Courage: Five On The Black Hand Side" during Black Writers Week because she works tirelessly as a violence interrupter, putting herself on the line to aid in reducing gun violence, disrupting retaliatory actions among gangs, acting as a conflicts resolution counsel, and advocating peace as something that starts within and spreads throughout the community. She says she had gone to far too many funerals witnessing the loss of our talented young people, and she decided enough is enough. Recently at the White House, President Biden singled her out for well-deserved praise. And it is partially through her actions that we will see more funds and programs dedicated to alleviating this national pandemic of violence. Miss Ford is an internationally recognized and widely-respected peacemaker.

When the Sandy Hook shootings shook the world a decade after Ford founded LIFE Camp, Inc., she was selected to be a part of a gun-violence task force established by President Barack Obama and headed by then Vice President Joseph Biden. In a recent NPR article by Juana Summers, Ford praised President Biden's $2 trillion jobs and infrastructure plan, which aims to deploy more than $5 billion to support community-based violence prevention programs. She is quoted saying it is fitting that the funds are being included in a measure "that is going to rebuild the roads and the blocks that many of our children died on. Because recovery is real, recovery for our people is real. And yes, it's jobs, but it's a lot of hope, and therapy, and services to help heal from the generation of death and destruction."—Chaz Ebert

Special update: Erica Ford was recently interviewed by Dr. Tara Narula on "CBS This Morning" about how Life Camp "tackles the roots of gun violence with a holistic prescription for peace" (the full segment is embedded below). The program's Fund Peace coalition is calling on Congress to support the Biden Administration's commitment to funding community violence intervention and community-based public safety solutions in the American Jobs Plan. Ford is also voicing her support for Senator Cory Booker's Break the Cycle of Violence Act, which "authorizes new grant programs to support violence intervention initiatives."

To donate to Life Camp go to the official site.

2. DR. KAHIL EL'ZABAR - Visionary Multi-percussionist and Composer

Dr. Kahil El Zabar (PhD Interdisciplinary Arts from Lake Forest College, 2006), was chosen as one of five amazing people that we featured in our Profiles in Courage: Five on the Black Hand Side during Black Writers Week because as a visionary in the world of music and composition, his innovative style has been applauded and taught in universities, concert halls and schools around the world. He is the leader and founder of the internationally renowned Ethnic Heritage Ensemble and the Ritual Trio, and has recorded more than 60 acclaimed projects worldwide. He has won numerous awards over the years for his musical skills, from Down Beat and Jazz Is magazines, as well as the Jazz Journalist Association. Sir E’Zabar was Knighted by the French Government in 2014, (Chevalier Medal of Letters) for his impactful contribution to the arts internationally. He was named Chicagoan of the year in 2006 by the Chicago Tribune. He has been an artist in residence since 2008 in the City of Bordeaux, France, where he has created, organized, and produced a myriad of stellar performance and exhibition projects. He is considered by his peers, as well as filmmaker George Lucas, to be one of the most innovative and influential musicians of his generation.

His influence goes beyond music. His compositions often focus on the human condition, and on bridging the gap between peoples and cultures. He says his music promotes wellness and spiritual empowerment. "Now’s the time for us to collectively invoke a confluence of trust and imagination that will enlighten a future path towards ethical humanity," he wrote in the notes to his recent album, "America The Beautiful." He says it may seem strange with everything going on the last year-and-a-half, but he still has bright hopes for the future. --Chaz Ebert

Special update: Recently, Dr Kahil El'Zabar and FCB Chicago won a Grand Prix award at the 2021 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity in the Media Lions category for their initiative, Boards of Change, which greatly increased voter participation in Chicago during the 2020 presidential election. You can view the powerful promo for Boards of Change below...

Chaz Ebert

Chaz is the CEO of several Ebert enterprises, including the President of The Ebert Company Ltd, and of Ebert Digital LLC, Publisher of, President of Ebert Productions and Chairman of the Board of The Roger and Chaz Ebert Foundation, and Co-Founder and Producer of Ebertfest, the film festival now in its 24th year.

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