A Detroit activist has created a program he hopes will quell the violence in his city.
Maurice Hardwick, affectionately known as Pastor Mo, believes the music his community is creating and consuming is harmful and part of the problem. He told FOX 2 Detroit that hip hop — that promotes violence — is part of the reason Detroit is perennially among the most crime-ridden cities in the nation.
“It’s not all hip hop, I’m just asking us to turn our backs on murder music,” he told the outlet. “It’s pushing our kids to be dangerous. It’s celebrating the murder and homicide, robbery, treachery and savageness. And so, I’m totally upset. I’m tired of it, and I won’t be quiet about it.”
At the end of February, Detroit police statistics recorded 39 homicides in the city since the beginning of 2022. One of those shooting deaths was a 5-year-old child named Caleb Harris who was found shot with his mother Lashon Marshall, and her boyfriend Aaron Benson in their home. Two teenagers have been charged with the crime.
“We not letting this killing of this 5 year baby slide,” Pastor Mo tweeted after the fatal shooting. “Evil got to answer for this in our City. It’s time hip hop artist step up against it with me.”
The faith-based leader is a husband and a father with a checkered past who understands the streets. He hopes his new “Bars Over Bars” initiative will inspire people to choose positive, uplifting rap bars over violence that could land them behind bars.
Mo says the program emphasizes rap lyrics with substance, positivity and uplifting messages for the Black community. He’s setting the example. His new track, aptly titled “Bars over Bars,” is three minutes worth of positivity and praise for God.
It’s caught the attention of Fat Joe, who according to Mo, has interviewed him about the song and his Bars over Bars program.
Pastor Mo is hoping to get the Bars Over Bars program in Detroit schools and summer programs, according to FOX 2 Detroit. For now, he’s well aware of the impact his program can have within the city. A few years ago, he used it to mediate a truce between two groups of young men who had a bitter rivalvry.
“I was in the studio one day and I got a call in the studio, ‘Pastor Mo, some boys are getting ready to get into it, there’s going to be a shoot out.’ I came out, I began to talk to the young men,” he recalled. “I began to tell them about we are brothers and we shouldn’t under threat from each other and I asked if I could pray with them. they allowed me to pray with them, man.
“I said if you guys would allow me to take the two leaders and make a song called ‘Squashing the Beef M.O.B.’ which is Money Over Beefing, I’ll pay for the studio time, I’ll get us on the radio, I’ll try to help change ya’lls life. And they said, ‘For real Pastor Mo?’ I said it’s for sure.”