The efforts of the Rebel Diaz Arts Collective, a Hip-Hop community center in the Bronx, to provide educational workshops and support to area youth is expanding. The group recently announced plans to open a community library using the backdrop of Hip-Hop and activism as part of its allure.
DNAInfo.com visited the headquarters of the collective to get the scoop on the upcoming Richie Perez Radical Library, named after a South Bronx activist and educator who passed away in 2004. The library will occupy a 4,000 square foot space with donated works from all around the country. Rodrigo “Rodstarz” Venegas of the Rebel Diaz rap trio hopes books will boost the bars of fledgling MCs.
“I tell them, ‘The more you read, the iller you'll be as an emcee,'” shared Venegas. "If we make it cool to read books in the South Bronx, then it's a victory.”
Bluestockings, an independent bookstore based in the Lower East Side, has partnered with the collective to gather over 300 books with donations coming from places such as Hawaii and Montana. The books will carry the Rebel Diaz creed of blending thought and activism, featuring writers of color that would appeal to inner city youth hoping to read relatable stories.
“We are what we eat, but we're also what we read,” said Claudia De la Cruz, Venegas' wife and also a member of the collective. “We wanted to create a space that uplifts our young people.”
This coming Sunday, the Rebel Diaz Arts Collective will host a benefit concert at its headquarters to raise funds to build the library space.
For more information, visit the Rebel Diaz Arts Collective homepage. Check out photos of the library in the gallery.
Photos: Patrick Wall