Salaam. (Handout, Baltimore Sun)

Baltimore native Babatunde Salaam began working with New Lens, a youth-driven social justice organization that utilizes art to help explore different community perspectives, as a way to receive community service hours.

Little did he know that his time there would create friendship and foster a passion for community outreach.


At New Lens, Salaam participated in a discussion on cops and their interactions with the community, and found his inspiration.

At 16, he created a documentary film, "Kids and Cops," illustrating the difficult relationship between Baltimore youths and the Police Department through nonprofit New Lens. He then assisted in facilitation of a training program for police to learn how to better communicate with younger people in the community.

Now at age 22, Salaam has received the Peace First Prize, a two year $50,000 grant to help further aid his peace making efforts.

Salaam plans to use this grant to "continue the momentum of what me and other young people at New Lens started, by exploring how do we bring justice to the many well-policed yet unjust communities in Baltimore."

Salaam shared with with us his biggest inspiration, his love of home cooking and more.

Last documentary you watched? "Hot Coffee."

Biggest inspiration? Malcolm X.

Worst pet peeve? As Charlie Murphy once eloquently said, "habitual line stepping."

What song/songs are you loving/hating right now? Love: "I Got This," Big K.R.I.T.

Last concert/gig you went to? Curren$y and Styles P.

Your worst habit? Starting work at midnight with two Red Bulls and a coffee.

Trend that has exceeded its natural lifespan? Taking pictures with the deceased at funerals.

Last movie you liked/disliked? Liked: "Prometheus." Disliked: "Man of Steel" was a let down.

TV shows you can't get enough of? "The Boondocks" and "Seinfeld."


Last great meal you had? Anything home cooked. Have you had the pleasure to indulge in my families' cooking?! I am forever indebted for their invigorating food offerings.

Best advice you ever got? Don't fake the funk on a nasty dunk.

Favorite thing about Baltimore? I enjoy and appreciate the small-town feel. Baltimore is a dynamic city. Plus, if you can excel in Baltimore then you may just be onto something.