Life After “The Wire”

Sohn speaks with community members in Baltimore. Photo courtesy of Hector Emanuel and The Washington Post.

Sonja Sohn speaks with community members in Baltimore. Photo courtesy of Hector Emanuel and The Washington Post.

Most of us are familiar with Detective Shakima Greggs and her work in Baltimore from the hit HBO series The Wire. Few of us are as familiar with Sonja Sohn, the actress who played Kima Greggs, and her continued work in youth development and community empowerment.

After The Wire ended in 2008, Sonja Sohn couldn’t leave Baltimore behind. Having spent years of her life in a city where the leading cause of death for African American males ages 15 to 35 was homicide, Sohn was anxious to use her experience on the show to help. She was especially inspired by the impact the cast of the show had on a voter empowerment tour of Virginia and North Carolina with the National Urban League. She used this experience to launch ReWired for Change, an organization that empowers at risk youth, families and communities living in under-served areas through educational programming, community building support and media and social advocacy.

ReWired for Change is a great example of sustained and effective organizing. While many celebrities start foundations, camps and promote volunteerism, they frequently serve as a figurehead to various causes and their impact on communities is often fleeting.  Sohn, on the other hand, has become an active thought leader – sitting on a Revitalizing Cities Think Tank panel at Harvard’s Advanced Leadership Initiative and testifying about youth violence before the Department of Justice in 2011. The NAACP, Center for Community Change and Harvard’s Black Men Forum have acknowledged her work. This past March, Sonja Sohn and various other leaders in the Baltimore community hosted a community forum called Baltimore Wake’s Up for the second time. Participants took part in a full day of education, training and engagement. Her activism nourishes the work of ReWired for Change and Sohn is proving to have a lasting impact on Baltimore communities.

by Vedan Anthony-North and Katrese Hampton

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3 Comments

  1. This is a powerful story that needs to be told many times over, especially to those individuals or entities in a position to push significant amounts of financial resources towards a specific cause. Athletes, celebrities, corporations and others must fully understand that it’s not enough to simply throw money towards a social issue and expect change to occur. Rather, they must follow Sonja Sohn’s example and develop informed and innovative solutions that stem from the principles of human centered design (rising directly from the problem/population in a bottom-up vs. top-down manner). Only then will real and lasting social change take place.

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  2. Natasha P

     /  November 19, 2014

    Having lived in Baltimore for half a decade before moving to New York and working in youth development, I experienced the extent to which money is thrown at the problem but very little people actually are on the ground witnessing the effect that money is having on the issue. It takes more than funds to truly affect change in such a crucial problem as this. The solution to the violence that occurs in the underserved, at-risk communities of Baltimore it likely to come from within. While policy changes, afterschool programs and job training will help (all of which require money and manpower), a program like ReWired for Change can help the community members realize their own power and capacity to lead those in the community to work toward positive change. I commend Sandra Sohn for not just talking about taking a stand, but actually taking action.

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  1. VIDEO + AUDIO: Sonja Sohn – Life After “The Wire” | Neo-Griot

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