Families who have experienced the tragedy of losing a loved one to violence have come together in an effort to reach younger generations and encourage them stop the violence.
TeamBoskie, a nonprofit organization created by the family of Travis Smith who was killed in North Augusta in September 2012, and hip hop artist Jeremiah Pressley are hoping to accomplish the goal through music.
“We’re trying to target everyone, but mainly the youth and people ages 18 to 25,” said Smith’s sister Tyesha Simmons. “Those are the ones getting killed and the ones ending up behind bars because of violence. We want to reach out to them and let them know that the violence is getting out of hand. They are our future. We want to teach them unity, to come together and stop the violence.”
Music is a powerful tool, said Pressley, also known as a musical artist by the name of JP.
“I wanted to create a song with a powerful, positive message to get into the ears of our youth and people in general,” he said.
Simmons’ and Pressley’s families attend the same church so they have known each other for some time, they said.
In September 2010, Pressley’s first cousin, Timothy Wilson, was killed when he was a passenger of a car that came under fire while at a home-based recording studio in the Petticoat Junction area, according to The Augusta Chronicle archives.
“He was like a brother to me,” Pressley said.
Simmons said her heart went out to the family, but little did she know “I would experience the same kind of tragedy just a few years later,” she said.
Smith was fatally shot at Ridgeview Manor Apartments off Bradleyville Road. A witness told officers that she and Smith were standing outside an apartment when two black men in hooded sweatshirts approached. The woman ran inside and heard a gunshot.
Wilson’s and Smith’s cases remain unsolved.
Smith’s family organized TeamBoskie in an effort to reach out to others, Simmons said.
“We want to raise more awareness about what has been going on in the area and to get more people and more families to come together to bring attention to the problem,” she said.
Last year, she and Pressley talked about having a song to share the stop the violence message.
Pressley recorded the hip-hop song the latter part of last year with two of his cousins, including Wilson’s brother.
“I wanted to show that we can talk about more than what’s common in hip hop songs – drugs, sex, money… I wanted to spread positivity in the community and reach other areas, cities and states,” he said. “Show people that hip hop can uplift people like it was intended to do in the beginning.”
On Saturday, TeamBoskie and Pressley held a community cookout and a video shoot at the Aiken County Recreation Center for the Stop the Violence song by JP featuring Chosen One and Joe Wilson.
The video is expected to be out in about a month or so, Pressley said.
“We want it to go viral,” Simmons said.
People can also listen to the song now at soundcloud.com/bighomiejp/stop-the-violence.
Those interested in learning more about TeamBoskie or helping with their efforts can contact them through their Facebook page.