Friday, February 27 about 200 community members gathered with Youthprise in St. Paul Central’s auditorium to take part in the community forum “Eyes on the Prize: Honoring Black Excellence.” The night was full of entertainment, kicked off with phenomenal African dancing and electrifying singing from local music artists.
During the community forum, attendees were graced with a soulful, motivating performance from Javonta Patton & DFY (Deliverance for Youth) singing songs “Grateful” and “I am…a winner.” Keynote Speaker Dane Verrtah dedicated the moment to his father before speaking on African American history, expressing his vision of Black excellence and the beauty of African people.
This is the fourth year that has held this event in an effort to place a positive light on the things that young people in the communities are doing, explained Youthprise President Wookie Weah, saying that the normal “narrative is not always positive. The event is a kickoff to really elevate these conversations because our hope is that conversations are going to continue.”
While the auditorium was having a party, local artist Ta-Coumba Aiken was out in the atrium creating a mural with the local youth that portrayed many images of family and happiness. The night ended with a performance by Grammy Award-winning Sounds of Blackness, led by Gary Hines, singing hits “Fly Again” and “Optimistic.”
“We do [this event] because race and equity is very foundational to our mission of learning beyond the classroom,” said Weah. “The Black History Month event is an opportunity to elevate the voice and contributions of African American young people.”