"Rock the Era" Festivals
In the month of July, thousands of SGI-USA youth gathered throughout the country to participate in the “Rock the Era” culture festivals held in four locations. On July 10, festivals were held in Long Beach, California, and Chicago, Illinois, and on July 25, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Honolulu, Hawaii. The festivals marked a historic milestone symbolizing youth taking the lead in promoting world peace, as well as commemorating the 50th anniversary of SGI-USA. Some traveled from the Caribbean islands and Puerto Rico to attend the events.
The festival at the Long Beach Arena was attended by some 16,000 SGI-USA members and guests, while 8,000 came from 20 states to join that held at the University of Illinois at Chicago Pavilion. Temple University’s Liacouras Center hosted some 11,700 people in Philadelphia, and 2,600 converged at the Neal S. Blaisdell Concert Hall in Honolulu.
All the events included explosive performances from performance groups such as taiko drummers, gymnastics and hip-hop performers, with Korean drummers and Tall Flags a feature in Chicago, and a performance of the Maori haka dance as well as more traditional hula and ukulele numbers in Hawaii.
SGI-USA General Director Danny Nagashima, who attended the Long Beach and Philadelphia events, called on the youth to create their own dreams for the future. He also shared words from SGI President Daisaku Ikeda encouraging the youth to become individuals who can help guide society toward peace and security.
In Long Beach, the festival opened with welcoming words from Long Beach City Councilmember Suja Lowenthal, who expressed her appreciation for the diversity reflected in the festival. Performances there included the Theater Group portraying different enduring human questions such as “What is the meaning of struggle?” In total, 2,700 youth performed during the day.
With the same intensity, the Philadelphia festival opened with 250 taiko drummers blanketing the arena floor. The festival’s theme, “Dream Big, Change the World,” was depicted in a short video clip featuring peace activists Mahatma Gandhi, Rosa Parks and Mr. Ikeda, who each inspired ordinary citizens to foster peace through nonviolent means in their daily lives.
Screens around the arena then flashed video clips of young men and women answering the question, “What is your big dream?”
At all of the festivals, participants listened to the poem “The Vow of America,” which reads in part:
America! Do you hear our future’s song?
A future in which our children and grandchildren all equally have the chance
to pursue their dreams and fulfill their mission in this lifetime.
A future free of the demonic threat of nuclear weapons.
A future in which our homes and streets, towns and cities,
overflow with creativity and dialogue, laughter and shared purpose,
bound by mutual respect.
[Adapted from articles from the July 30 and August 6, 2010, issues of the World Tribune, SGI-USA; photos courtesy of Edward Chen, Ratchana Jaey Akarapolpaisansin and Sophie Hou]