BY: DT THE ARTIST
On February 24th to the 26th, I had the pleasure of documenting a lecture tour with Freeway aka Philadelphia Freeway. The Lecture Tour was organized by Shazad, founder of the Canadian Dawah Association. The lecture tour addressed concerns around bullying and Islamophobia. The tour also featured Arnoud Van Dorn, an MP from Holland.
The lecture tour started at the Rexdale hub where Love “Leave out Violence” organized a community town hall, speaking to youth and community leaders. Freeway was introduced to the group and took the microphone. While small in stature, Freeway has a huge presence and speaks with a soft yet endearing voice. Freeway shared his story of growing up in Philadelphia and later being signed to Jay-Z and Rockafella Records. He also talked about the issues of bullying in schools, and ways for youth to set a good example. Freeway also spoke about his life and music career, and how being a devout Muslim impacts his music and business dealings. As he speaks, he addresses the Islamaphobia that is starting to rise around the world, in which many Muslims have been affected. After passionately speaking about overcoming Islamaphobia, Freeway gets vulnerable and starts to discuss his health issues with the group, He showed the group his arm where they put the port needles to do the dialysis he now has to do three times a week to combat his renal kidney failure and diabetes. The session ends with a freestyle from Freeway.
Up next, the group headed to a Mosque in Rexdale where they prayed together, and Arnoud and Freeway both addressed the rising concerns of Islamaphobia happening around the world. The best part of the lecture came when some of the youth were able to ask questions to Freeway, such as how hard is it to be a devout Muslim in the music Industry? And what is it like traveling all around the world? Freeway smiled and answered each question, adding that “These youth are our leaders”. After the question and answer period, the group headed to a Hamdi’s, a Somalian restaurant where they had lunch, and shared stories of their experiences.
Sunday, we attended a dinner in Mississauga at the Park Inn Hotel. The stage was set for the lecture, as Arnoud, and Freeway both addressed the audience on Islamaphobia, sharing a message of peace and brotherhood. After the inspirational messages, Freeway sat down with a table of young people and ate with them, gave advice on life and the music industry. After posing for pictures the night ended with Freeway personally greeting the youth, and wishing them each a good night.
The next morning the lecture tour headed to Senator O’Connor Collegiate institute. This day was different than the others as the youth provided high energy. Freeway spoke again about bullying, Islamaphobia, and his health concerns but this time he also performed a few of his songs for the group of around 200 to 300 youth. After the performance, the youth were in for a treat as Freeway sat and signed autographs and answered questions. The time spent documenting this lecture series allowed me the opportunity to spend time with Freeway and get to know him. After the school, it was back to the hotel, and then to the airport. At the airport, the group said its final greetings. I personally spoke with Freeway and he surprised me and said, “hey brother I been checking out your Instagram page, I see what you’re doing, keep up the good work.” What an end to a weekend of adventure, insight and motivation. Make sure to add @phillyfreeway for his inspirational morning quotes. “Early.”
The lecture tour was organized by the Canadian Dawah Association, to bring awareness to the rise in Islam–a–Phobia happening, and to share with youth the keys to being successful.