Youth-focused Black History Month celebration planned

Black parents also encouraged to participate


By Youthprise Staff

Contributing Writers


“Renewing Hope in the Promise of Minnesota’s Youth” is an opportunity to commemorate Black History Month with a series of events on February 26-27 that embrace the insight, resourcefulness and energy of today’s youth, while also tapping into the strengths of African American culture and history.

The organizers plan to bring people together across cultural and generational lines to collectively address how African American cultural strengths and lessons from history can be used to address disparities in opportunities and outcomes for under-engaged youth. Planned, orchestrated, and led by youth in partnership with adults, the Black History Month Celebration will include multimedia presentations, artistic expressions, public speaking, and facilitation by local youth in an effort to showcase the diverse skills, talents, and qualities that are being taught and strengthened through local out-of-school time programs.

Dr. Joseph L. White, Ph.D., pioneer in the field of Black psychology, perennial voice for youth empowerment, and strong advocate for leadership development among Black and Latino youth will be a featured guest

These students from PYC Arts & Technology High School Discovery Crew are among those spearheading the “Renewing Hope” events. Photo courtesy of Youthprise
These students from PYC Arts & Technology High School Discovery Crew are among those spearheading the “Renewing Hope” events.
Photo courtesy of Youthprise

throughout the two-day celebration. His keynote presentation, remarks, and facilitated dialogues over the course of the two days are titled “Discovering, Rediscovering and Utilizing the Strengths of the Past to Take Control of Our Destiny as African American Youth in the 21st Century.”

Recent research shows that engaging young people in pursuits that affirm racial pride and promote positive connections to their culture can have a positive impact on academic performance. On that account, teaching youth positive messages about their culture and history can play a fundamental role in laying the foundation for their future success.

History provides perhaps the best evidence of how many marginalized cultures, through determination, resilience, and ingenuity, are able to overcome great obstacles in the face of extreme adversity and oppression. The strength and resolve of pioneering forefathers has transformed our society, creating a better world for all of us.

As we consider the magnitude of these advances along with the benefits of connecting youth to the relevance of the past, how can we leverage culture and history as tools to develop leadership among under-engaged youth to help them build a better future for themselves and, accordingly, advance the future prosperity of Minnesota?

In an effort to examine this topic, “Renewing Hope in the Promise of Minnesota’s Youth” will include three events that are designed to reposition Black culture as a strength toward building and supporting the academic success and leadership capacity of youth. The series will also promote practices and approaches from history that can be effective in closing today’s opportunity gap and improving outcomes for youth.

Events that are open to the public include:


Black Parent Summit 

on Feb. 27 

Co-sponsored by St. Paul Public Schools, this event will accentuate strengths in African American culture and offer practical strategies parents can apply as they seek to develop their children’s leadership skills and support their academic success. Emphasis will be placed on how culture and history can be used as resources in parenting, personal development, and community building. (8:30-10 am at the Arnold P. Williams Outreach Center, 999 Selby Avenue, Saint Paul; to register, visit www.event


Community Forum 

on Feb. 27  

This youth-directed forum will include a range of presentations and performances by local youth involved in out-of-school time programs. Local sheroes and heroes will be honored for their work in building the capacity of young people in our local community. The program will close with an intergenerational choir comprised of the Grammy Award Winning Sounds of Blackness and Coon Rapids High School Gospel Choir (5:30-7:30 pm at Sabathani Community Center, 310 East 38th Street, Minneapolis; to register, visit


For more information, contact the Cultural Wellness Center at 612-721-5745 or visit