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The Specials Host Parkland High School Students & Parents At Brooklyn Show

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The Specials Host Parkland High School Students & Parents At Brooklyn Show

The Specials were joined in Brooklyn on Friday night by some very special guests. Some teachers and parents from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Artist and activist Manuel Oliver, whose 17 year old son Joaquin was one of the 17 students murdered in the mass shooting last year, gave an impassioned speech to the crowd at Brooklyn Steel. The band incorporated the Instrument of Hope, a trumpet crafted of bullet casings by survivors of the school shooting, into their sold out performance. The band flew Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students Sawyer Garrity and Andrea Pena, the writers of Shine, and their parents to Brooklyn to attend the concert and meet with the band prior to the show.

The Instrument of Hope is on a cross-country tour with famed musicians to revitalize the conversation around gun violence. The trumpet is a project of students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, ShineMSD, Level Forward and Publicis New York. ShineMSD is a non-profit organization founded in the aftermath of the shooting, which uses the arts to promote healing for the Parkland community.

Read Rolling Stone's Coverage Of The Specials Brooklyn Show With Parkland Parent Manuel Oliver HERE

The beloved British ska band was in Brooklyn, NY as part of a North American tour in support of their new album "Encore" - the first new music the band have released together since 1981, and the first album of theirs to go to #1 on the UK charts.

Following the mass shooting that took place at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Shine MSD, a registered 501(c)3 non-profit, was created to provide programs centered around the arts to promote healing and to unite our community in the aftermath of tragedy. Shine MSD runs Camp Shine, a free summer camp for Marjory Stoneman Douglas student survivors that provides art based trauma therapy. Shine MSD anticipates the healing and mental health needs to be a continuous, ongoing effort, with the potential to expand the scope of our work to other individuals and communities in need around the world. Shine MSD gives special thanks to The Specials for using their stage to raise awareness of gun violence. To learn more about Shine MSD visit their website at

The Specials formed in Coventry, England in 1977 and released two albums "The Specials" (1979) and "More Specials" (1980), quickly becoming one of Britain's most successful bands and bringing them to international attention. They released a string of hit singles, including "Gangsters", "Ghost Town","A Message To You, Rudy", "Too Much Too Young" and "Rat Race". The Specials' message of racial harmony was integral to their music. The band formed out of a youthful sense of anger and injustice during a time of high unemployment in the UK and a rise in neo-facist skinhead groups of the punk era. Along with fellow UK bands like The Clash - with whom they toured in 1978 - The Specials stood squarely in the opposing corner, as very vocal proponents of anti-racist organizations like the Anti-Nazi League and Rock Against Racism. They infused ska with punk, homegrown political anxiety with wider issues and their success spawned its own genre and attendant youth cult. Through their music - in their reworking of reggae classics, with their lyrics of unity, and with their black-and-white checkered pattern logo that was symbolic of the multiracial makeup of the band - they promoted multi-cultural harmony at a time of rising racial tension. Their music was - and remains - a joyous, anthemic rebuttal for a generation keen to reject the intolerance and racist nationalism of the far right. The band's popularity has continued for 40 years and their fanbase now spans multi-generations.

Throughout the '80s and '90s the band members pursued other musical projects before reuniting in 2009 for a 30th Anniversary reunion tour. Since then they've toured the globe together, finding that audiences around the world are as enthusiastic about their music - and their message - now as they were when they first burst onto the music scene in the late '70s. On February 1st, 2019 they released their first new recordings in 39 years. "Encore" (Island Records) has been critically lauded and its singles "Vote For Me", "The 10 Commandments" and "Embarrassed By You" continue the band's tradition of biting social commentary. They are wrapping up their North American tour in Canada this week.

Change The Ref (CTR), was formed to empower our Future Leaders. CTR gives the kids of today the tools they need to be empowered to make changes to critical issues that affect our nation, through education, conversation, and activism. It uses urban art and nonviolent creative confrontation to expose the disastrous effects of the mass shooting pandemic. It also brings focus to the NRA's corrupt maneuvers to buy lawmakers, while forcing solutions which are essential to healing mass shooting victims' families' lifelong grief. Change The Ref's ultimate goal is to give the young generation of survivors and victims a disrupting voice to help lead the way to change - a more peaceful future. #NeverAgain.

The Loss of 17 lives on February 14th, 2018 at MSD High School in Parkland, Florida due to yet another mass shooting, caused a conversation to erupt in our country and around the world and a youth movement to be born. CTR is an organization created to fuel the youth of today, empowering them to lead the way and make impactful changes happen.

Founded in the memory of their son Joaquin who was one of the 17 victims, Manuel and Patricia Oliver are committed to making sure that their son's life and the lives of the other 16 victims are never forgotten and that real change happens to prevent future tragedies like this from happening ever again.

The only way that will occur is if we have the ability engage the next generation and the generations after to get involved, fight for their values and beliefs and have their voices heard!

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