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Maura Hennigan got a gift yesterday from the City Council’s president, Michael Flaherty. She took a parting bow after 24 years on the council.
Maura Hennigan got a gift yesterday from the City Council’s president, Michael Flaherty. She took a parting bow after 24 years on the council. (Jodi Hilton for the Boston Globe)

Snoop Dogg's mom preaches antigang gospel to children

If Snoop Dogg's own mother put the smack down -- saying fighting and drugs are wack to be around -- then it must be true.

That's what pupils at Epiphany School in Dorchester were saying yesterday after Beverly Broadus Green, the 54-year-old mother of the multiplatinum rap star, spoke during their weekly church service, encouraging them to make good life choices.

''I stand here to tell you that violence is not the way, gangs are not the way, drugs are not the way," she said to the excited crowd of about 80 pupils in the assembly room. ''The thing is, it leads to destruction. If you go that way, there's no telling what might happen to you."

Green's son, born Calvin Broadus, is a former gang member whose vivid street lyrics and distinctive drawls helped popularize gangsta rap in the early 1990s. Just as Snoop Dogg, 34, has traveled the globe promoting his albums, his mother was in Boston this week on a tour of her own: the launch of Mothers of Entertainers, a charitable organization designed to help urban youth stay away from crime and violence. She appeared yesterday just hours after four people were fatally shot Tuesday night in a basement near Fields Corner in Dorchester.

After reading a Globe story about Epiphany, a tuition-free, private middle school tucked between Codman Square and Fields Corner, Green decided to visit the church-centered school, where many of the pupils, grades 5 through 8, live in a world she described yesterday.

Kristina Tapia, 13, said she hears gunshots every Friday night, so she stays inside and watches TV. Tapia said Green's words convinced her that she was doing the right thing by avoiding violence.

''I learned I don't have to do that," she said. ''At the end, they're not going somewhere with their lives, but I am going somewhere."

Green, a minister from Long Beach, Calif., has been developing the idea for the campaign for the past 15 years, but she said she was waiting for the right time. So far, the organization has reached out to the mothers of hip-hop mogul Diddy (formerly Sean Combs), Beyonce (Knowles), Cedric the Entertainer, and Ricky Davis of the Boston Celtics, among others. ''This is a priority," said Claudia Price, 54, the mother of R&B singer Kelly Price and part of the tour. ''We want to deal with our children in our country. They need our help."

Days before the visit, the excitement about Snoop Dogg's mother coming to Epiphany permeated the school. It took five minutes to quiet the cafeteria after the announcement, administrators said. Some pupils asked whether they could wear special outfits instead of their school uniform, khaki pants and blue shirts. Officials said no.

''So many kids are looking to find their self-respect," said John H. Finley IV, head of the school. ''When you have someone like Snoop's mother saying that's something to be proud of, it's important."

The pupils asked whether Snoop was in a gang, whether Green liked her son's lyrics, and whether she had met any of his friends. She answered each query, but reinforced the mothers' mission.

''The drugs, the guns, we're not having it," Green said with arms lifted, fists clenched. ''We're getting ready to take our kids back."

The children erupted, standing, clapping, and shouting. Afterward, Ryan Morgan, 15, remained in his chair, quiet and still. ''I don't want to die at an early age," he said looking at the ground.

After hearing Green's speech, Ezra McDowall, 13, said he would encourage any children he sees drinking, smoking, or fighting to stop. He said he would call in reinforcements if he had to.

''I know snitchin' is a bad thing," he said, ''but I'll at least tell their parents to get them help."

Russell Nichols can be reached at rnichols@globe.com.

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