Cecil-Raw‘s cousin was a victim of bullying at 9 years old. He combated it by ending his life.
His father found his dead body hanging from inside his bedroom closet.
“At the age of 9 you shouldn’t even be thinking about bullying and thinking about taking your own life,” Cecil said. “That’s why I’m a part of this movement, because it means a lot to me.”
Cecil, a Christian rapper from Nashville, Tenn., was one of many speakers and volunteers who helped with M”A”N Up Against Bullying, an anti-bullying rally at the Jack McLean Community Center that was part of Demp Week.
As proclaimed by the mayor, Demp Week is a week of events that raises money and awareness for a number of charity-based organizations and community initiatives, in addition to celebrating DJ Demp‘s birthday.
Tiffany Love, former Miss Tennessee International 2008, Miss Georgia United States 2011 and Miss Tennessee United States 2012, is CEO and president of Once In Manhood.
She said “hitting” and “violence” are what most people immediately think of when it comes to bullying.
“That’s not the No. 1 form of bullying,” Love said. “The No. 1 form of bullying is cyberbullying and words. If words can kill, words can certainly heal. So the message I wanted to get across is, watch what you say.”
Love said she enjoys using the word “ugly,” not as an insult but as a positive acronym for “U Gotta Love Yourself.”
“That’s the first thing you always see,” she said. “The kids, they tease each other like, ‘You’re so ugly.’ So what I like to teach is, yes, I am ugly because you gotta love yourself.”
Ahmad Harden, the event’s production manager and Once In Manhood’s personality host, spoke about the first segment, Princess 2 Queen and Pr”I”nce 2 K”I”ng.
“We bond the parents and their child,” Harden said.
Mothers were with their daughters as they got their hair done and were given makeovers and tiaras. Free haircuts and ties were given for men and boys, in addition to comic books.
“It’s basically so that the parents can bridge the gap of communication with their kids,” Harden said. “They can know when something’s going on. And also so the child doesn’t feel obligated to commit suicide so that they can be comfortable talking to their parents about whatever’s going on in their life.”
At least half of suicides among young people are related to bullying, according to a study in Britain.
The Florida State University Black Student Union reached out to take part in the event. MarCherie Thompkins, a second-year English student from Orlando and community service co-chair of the BSU, said the Black Student Union pubbed the event and took in donated school supplies for the boys and girls at the rally.
“It was pretty successful,” Thompkins said of the school supply drive. “Of course, we always want more, but Florida State students were very generous, and we got quite enough school supplies that we hope will be enough for the students who came out today.”