NEA Beyond Placemaking Update – Jeremiah Woody

Embracing Authenticity
and Brotherhood for Mental Health

July 10 from 5-8 pm
Center for Health Equity, St Pete
Details here

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), over 6 million men suffer from depression annually in the United States, and male depression remains significantly underdiagnosed.

Alarmingly, men are four times more likely to die by suicide than women. In Florida alone, suicide ranks as a leading cause of death across various age groups. These staggering statistics highlight a critical need for innovative mental health support tailored specifically to men and boys.

“Esse Quam Videri,” Latin for “To Be, Rather Than to Seem” is a groundbreaking initiative designed to empower men and boys to embrace their true selves. EQV leverages the transformative power of hip-hop and spoken word, fostering self-expression and community bonding to build resilience and unity in the face of life’s challenges.

The heart of EQV lies in its holistic approach to mental well-being. By providing platforms for open dialogue, peer support and creative expression, EQV helps participants navigate their emotional landscapes and find strength in vulnerability.

Open discussions offer safe spaces for men and boys to share their experiences and challenges. Writing workshops encourage them to explore their emotions and thoughts through the written word. Open mic sessions provide a stage for individuals to express themselves through spoken word and hip-hop, turning personal narratives into powerful performances. Brothers Connect fellowship gatherings emphasize camaraderie and mutual support, creating a sense of belonging and brotherhood.

At the core of EQV is the belief that strength is found in community. By promoting brotherhood and a sense of belonging, the program helps participants build invaluable support networks, enriching their personal and professional lives.

The program’s pillars — Responsibility, Authenticity, Autonomy, Empathy and Integrity — guide men and boys towards a fulfilled and genuine expression of masculinity. EQV envisions a world where men and boys are empowered with lifelong support communities to overcome life’s challenges. By cultivating a culture of authenticity and mutual empowerment, EQV strives to dismantle the stigma surrounding mental health and encourage men to live up to their true potential.

Jema (Jeremiah Woody)

The story of EQV is deeply personal for its founder, Jema. A compelling hip-hop artist, Jema blends old school essence with new school beats to explore life’s hidden chapters.

His journey of self-discovery and resilience through hip-hop and spoken word inspired the creation of EQV. “Esse Quam Videri” serves as a testament to Jema’s personal journey and a profound realization of the need within their community.

Jema identified a critical gap in support for men during his transition into adulthood. Aged out of youth programs in his early 20s, Jema confronted the stark reality of navigating life’s challenges without adequate resources or a supportive network.

Driven by this vision, the EQV Brotherhood Initiative empowers men and boys to support each other, fostering an environment where seeking help is encouraged without stigma.

Through embracing creative expression and fostering cathartic release, EQV elevates its participants, cultivating resilience and a deeper sense of community. Collaboration is key to EQV’s mission, and this is exemplified through its partnership with the Competitive Readers Coalition  (CRC, formerly the Barbershop Book Club).

Antonio Brown created the Competitive Readers Coalition (first known as the Barbershop Book Club)

CRC transforms traditional barbershops into hubs for literacy, education and community engagement. Together, EQV and CRC create transformative spaces where literacy, emotional resilience, artistic expression and community engagement intersect.

To kickoff this impactful program series, we are thrilled to invite you to the Esse Quam Videri Program Launch and Panel Discussion, “Defining and Navigating Masculinity” — a free event open to the community.

This event will introduce the EQV: A Journey of Brotherhood program and provide a glimpse of how art meets brotherhood. The kickoff event features performing artists, a special guest speaker, and a panel discussion on Defining and Navigating Masculinity with local community leaders.

We’ll be gathering at the Center for Health Equity on Wednesday, July 10 from 5-8 pm, to start your summer with community support and intention. You can register here.


Facebook @eqvbrotherhood
Instagram @eqvbrotherhood

Produced with the support of the National Endowment for the Arts, Creative Pinellas, the Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners and the State of Florida.

Jeremiah Woody (Jema) is one of ten artists awarded NEA grants through Creative Pinellas for transformative projects in Pinellas County. Jema is partnering with St. Petersburg’s Competitive Readers Coalition.


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