Lead Story West Edition

TEDxCrenshaw brings in speakers on multiple topics

By Simone Grant

Contributing Writer

BALDWIN HILLS — They came from all over the world to impart their wisdom gained from a variety of worldly experiences.

TedxCrenshaw took over the Cinemark Theater complex in Baldwin Hills Oct. 6.

TED, a nonprofit organization, is devoted to spreading ideas by conducting short talks from today’s leading thinking and doers. TEDxCrenshaw, where the “x” represents independently organized event, is dedicated to spreading ideas, sparking conversation and addressing changes affecting South Los Angeles.

The event was hosted by East Oakland native Glenetta Turner, a teacher and educational consultant. Turner also was a speaker at the 2015 TEDxCrenshaw. Her talk was titled, “Education Changes Lives.”

Other speakers included Dana Hammond, CEO of the Academy of Media Arts, and a composer, producer and musician. He has produced songs for various labels such as Atlantic, Interscope and Def Jam and has had his music appear on VH1 and MTV.

Besides the drums, Hammond plays the piano and bass guitar. His love for music started at a young age and was used to escape the everyday struggles he used to face. Hammond was in foster care and a caregiver for his siblings when his mom was unable to do so. He triumphed over his adversity and was able to work with artists such as Trey Songz and gospel group Mary Mary.

User experience designer, Chelsea Solomita, was also a guest speaker at the event. She has certificates in UX Design and software product management. Her team was the winner of the South LA Hackathon.

During her talk, Solomita discussed the cannabis industry and how it has flourished. She also talked about the lack the lack of black ownership in this growing business.

Krischa Esquival is an expert in the field of early child care and education and sits on the Board of Directors for a charter school in the San Fernando Valley. During her talk, she discussed how children experience physical, verbal and emotional violence and how that can perpetuate into their adult years.

Esquival ended her speech with, “If we want peace in the world, we have to start with children.”

Iddris Sandu, 21, is an award-winning innovator who considers himself an architect. At the age of 9, his father took him to Africa and abandoned him there. Sandu was born and raised in Harbor City with parents from Ghana.

He has worked with companies on projects such as wireless charging table and Uber self-driving cars.

Entrepreneur, philanthropist, recording artist and motivational speaker Rayo Cole suffered various eating disorders. During her talk, she discussed how she tried to commit suicide three times and her journey to living a healthy life.

She has a celebrity wig line, “Rayo Cole Hair” for television and film and also is founder of the “My Song” organization that helps children with challenging circumstances and illnesses fulfill dreams of becoming recording artists.

“We all deserve to live our best life and not because of a spoon, fork and a knife,” Cole said.

Autumn Williams is a Stanford graduate in aeronautics and astronautics and serves as executive director of the African School for Excellence, which has three campuses in South Africa that offer affordable, world-class education for families. Williams has also worked for NASA.

“I saw firsthand what under-representation in the field looked like because there weren’t any other women or black folks in my cohort and I continued to see the problem as I was doing work and researching aeronautics and astronautics so I decided to start a nonprofit that got kids excited about stem when they’re in middle school,” Williams said. She didn’t like the fact that people were surprised at the type of work she did coming from South L.A., which motivated her to make change.

She plans to visit South Africa again in January.