In the Beginning
In response to the 1996 CPS arts funding cuts and Chicago’s embracing of harsher criminal justice systems like three strikes and anti gang loitering acts, Co-Directors, Jaquanda Villegas Jacinda Bullie, and Leyda Garcia founded the not for profit arts and education organization Kuumba Lynx. The three young women came together under the belief that youth have a power in edutainment (arts & education). In recognizing that globally, youth are over-represented in the juvenile justice system and under-represented at the university level, the KL founders embraced what gave them a sense of individual purpose and community belonging as youth, Hip Hop.
Their goal was to utilize Hip-Hop arts & culture to increase social consciousness, inner peace, creativity, and universal freedom. These women created programs that utilized the cultural and artistic aesthetics of urban hip hop arts & culture to reshape and empower Chicago’s communities. With roots in poor and underserved neighborhoods, they knew the importance of youth empowerment and felt firsthand the silencing, criminalization and mis-education that is so often inflicted on marginalized communities. For them, Hip Hop was a vehicle for self determination and another future.
An Alternative Approach
By embracing the artistic, social, spiritual, economic, and political elements of Hip Hop themselves, they have exposed Chicago’s youth to a means for innovatively reflecting and challenging one another to find, develop, present, and apply their individual and collective voices as catalysts for social justice.
Kuumba Lynx was founded on the belief that youth in our society grow up lacking the attention and respect they need to love, understand, and respect themselves and each other. KL programming focuses on counterculture ideologies and urban culture. The KL experience fosters an increase in a participant's self discovery of ones voice, self-confidence, expands their world view, and leaves them inspired to continue using art as a means of personal and social expression and community activism.
Where Are They Now?
The original founders, Leida “Lady Sol” Garcia is the Creative and Managing Director for the professional dance ensemble, FootworKINGz, and Jacinda and Jaquanda are Co-Executive Directors, as well as the Co-Creative Directors for the Kuumba Lynx Hip Hop Theatre company (KLPE).