• location


  • Neighborhood


  • completion date

    June 30, 2020

About the Project 

The Latin root of the word Emergence – “Emergere” which means “to bring to light.”

The “Emerge” campaign aims to foster inspiration and hope, acknowledging not just the impact of the intersections of COVID-19 and systemic racism in America, but the innate strength and resilience of people of color challenged by both pandemics. Fellows in the Guild, a workforce development curriculum for citizens returning from incarceration, were paired with a writing coach to develop and polish their original PSAs.

The campaign began as a project focused on resilience, public health, and safety during the coronavirus pandemic, and has evolved to address the systemic racism plaguing our country and offering a platform of expression for Black voices. In these 9 original PSAs, Guild fellows explore and try to answer the question “How will we emerge?”

Led by community partnerships with Philly-based hip-hop legend Philly Freeway, Hip Hop Artist/Activist Mary Baxter, Hip Hop Artist/Activist Ant Brown, Poet/Curator Nina “Lyrispect” Ball, Poet/Pew Fellow Ursula Rucker, WURD 900am, and Guild Members: Taliah Neal, Wayne Gainey, Saul Miller, Tamir Redding, the PSA campaign will be broadcast on radio and social media platforms and posted on boarded up storefronts around Philadelphia throughout July 2020.


Wayne Gainey, aka. Bottomboy Slim was perfectly paired with Ant Brown as his Writing Coach for this project. Together they wrote and created the idea for their PSA video. Wayne, aka Bottomboy Slim, was born and raised in West Philly and has been rapping since the age of 12. Ant is a community activist, rapper, and visionary; he aims to use creativity to influence urban youth & young adults.


Rapper, poet, artist Saul Miller was born and raised in North Philadelphia. At 22-years-old, he is a graduate of the Mural Arts’ Guild program and goes by the name Mr. FixIt. Saul is a community voice and business owner you can call on for any home repair project. Instagram @mr.fixit215


Ursula Rucker is an interdisciplinary poet, performer, and recording artist whose work reflects on personal history, family, and place. Rucker has released five albums and collaborated with a wide range of artists outside of the field of poetry, including The Roots, Pew Fellows Jamaaladeen Tacuma and King Britt, and, most recently, Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Clarence Williams III. A Philly 360 Creative Ambassador and recipient of Leeway Foundation’s Transformation Award, Rucker is the subject of the 2008 documentary Ursula Rucker: Poet, directed by Michael J. Dennis, and was a 2018 Pew Fellow.
Instagram: @urucker


Leslie Edward Pridgen, better known by his stage name, Freeway, is an American rapper from North Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He is best known as a member of the rap group State Property and its 2000s run at Roc-A-Fella Records alongside Jay-Z. In 2009, Freeway was briefly signed to Cash Money Records, but returned to work again with Jay-Z at the mogul’s entertainment organization and record label, Roc Nation, with his 2018 album Think Free.


Taliah Neal, aka Tee Allmightee, is a 27-year-old recording artist from Philly. Her style can be described as “gritty” and “melodic,” with the ability to switch flows up with her cool fresh delivery of bars. Taliah is a graduate of Mural Arts’ Guild program.


Nina Elizabeth “Lyrispect” Ball is an award-winning lyricist, voice-over actor educator and curator. Her creative, social justice, and performance work span mediums, cultures, and continents. Nina is a graduate of Temple University and Baltimore School for the Arts. She is an activist and advocate for girls, women, people of color, and marginalized communities.

Follow @Lyrispect on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Visit www.lyrispect.com for bookings and an extensive overview of her work.


Ant Brown is a 25 year old community activist, rapper, and visionary. He uses creativity to influence humanitarianism. Ant Brown creates art for the urban youth & young adults who feel like an outcast when the pressures of society are against them. FB:AntBrown Insta:@AntBrownent


Mary Enoch Elizabeth Baxter aka @IsisThaSaviour is an award winning Philadelphia based artist who creates socially conscious music, film and visual art through an autobiographical lens. Although it has been a decade since her release from a Pennsylvania prison, Mary’s time spent on the inside continues to shape the direction of her art and practice. Her entertaining but poignant works offer a critical perspective on the particular challenges women of color face when they become immersed in the criminal justice system.


Emerge Poster Designs 

Poster artwork by Mark Strandquist and Kate Deciccio. 


WURD 96.1 Interview 


ARTISTS: Freeway, Mary “Isis Tha Savior” Baxter, Ant Brown, Nina “Lyrispect” Ball, Ursula Rucker, Taliah Neal, Wayne Gainey, Saul Miller, Tamir Redding.
Video Production by Chad Eric Smith, MisterDuke Productions LLC
Graphics by Mark Strandquist, Kate DeCiccio.
Created and led by Restorative Justice Director, Greg Corbin.


City of Philadelphia
Hess Foundation


Fill the Walls with Hope, The Enterprise Center, DTLR VILLA, Tattooed Mom, South Street Headhouse District, WURD Radio, iHeartMedia.

City of Philadelphia COVID-19 Updates