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