YGB 2017

2017 was a powerful year for YGB.  We started the year off with a dynamic performance at the Oscar Grant Vigil, followed by an all hands on deck performance at Nourse Theater.  As part of a ceremony and celebration for the end of our Artistic Directors time as the National Program Director for Youth Speaks, YGB performed several of our pieces in front of an audience of about 2800 people.  Our entire YGB community attended the event and all groups performed on stage.  Hodari was introduced at the event by youth director Ikera Davis, and given flowers.  He made a brief speech and made it clear that the future of his work in this area was with YGB. 

During Black History Month YGB had over 20 performances including the inaugural kickoff for the Edutainment for Equity Critical Conversations and the start of the Mr Davis Classroom series.  YGB went through other transitions as well when leaders of YBK returned to the pursuit of their individual athletic and artistic interests and stopped performing as the Young Black Kings.  The remaining members continue to perform with the Sheroes as a unified crew.  Additionally, in 2017 we recorded many of the YGB pieces at Zoo Labs as part of an Arts Residency program for the YGB Directors.  These high level recordings will be part of the roll out of YGB products later down the line.  The residency offered business development training, recording and networking opportunities and a chance for YGB members to experience a professional recording studio.  

Another highlight of the year that was a by product of the Zoo Labs residency was meeting and collaborating with the Alphabet Rockers.  They use Hip Hop to teacher solidarity, cultural mindfulness and social justice to kids under the age of 8.  The Rockers attended several YGB rehearsals and recorded bits of the process for their Grammy Nominated Album Rise Shine Woke.  The record begins with words from YGB Director Laroilyn Davis, and  includes the voices of the kids throughout.  It is a great album and we were honored to be a part of the process.

YGB was officially invited to attend the Emancipation Day Ceremonies in Trinidad and Tobago.  Artistic Director Hodari Davis and Operations Director Candice Antique Davis traveled to Trinidad this summer to scout locations, attend the ceremonies and generally provide reconnaissance for the group.  For the past 3 international tours we have gone to Ghana, West Africa and visited the historic and significant sites there.  This trip will offer YGB a chance to engage with the African diaspora, get a sense of how other people in the Western Hemisphere regard and honor slavery, and experience another iteration of African culture, including visiting pan yards, museums and performing at the Tobago Heritage Festival.  We are very excited for our trip to Trinidad in 2018.

YGB continues to meet and rehearse at Oakland School for the Arts.  In 2017 we entered a partnership with their Step Up program, which is an outreach program of the school to encourage kids to audition and apply.  YGB provided introductory instruction for many of the youth who self selected to participation through Step Up.  We were honored to be a part of the process of recruiting these creative kids to attend OSA.

As we dig in to 2018 we are happy to begin this process again, and get started spreading the word about the importance of Black History. We have an exciting year ahead of us.  Please continue to support our work.

Antique Naked Soul featured on Afropunk

YGB Operations Director and CEO of Edutainment for Equity Candice Antique released a new music video on Afropunk.com for a song called "Burn".  Directed by YGB Artistic Director Hodari Davis and also featuring YGB Parents Tommy Shepherd, and Cat Brooks the video traces African American resistance from the Sit ins of the 1950's to the Black Lives Matter Movement of today.  The video is a powerful testimony to the continuation of struggle against forces that seek to oppress the progress of African American people.  The video is currently only available exclusively on the Afropunk website, but will soon be featured on other platforms and available for everyone to see on and off line. We are very excited for this video release and to be so connected to the community of artists that put it together, especially Oaklands own Antique Naked Soul.

Here is the link to the article and the video.

http://afropunk.com/2018/01/video-premiere-union-fire-socially-charged-video-antique-naked-soul-burn/

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Mr Davis Classroom and Proud2beblack

Proud2beblack is a campaign of the Professional consulting firm Edutainment for Equity to affirm Black Pride and Consciousness into Black people worldwide.  Included in that mission is support for Young Gifted and Black, and the teaching and learning of Black History.  Co CEO and Creative Director of Edutainment for Equity also doubles as a scholar of this history.  His extensive experience makes the addition of Mr Davis Classroom into the Proud2beBlack campaign a logical next step for the work.

In 2017 we were able to offer 6 Mr Davis Classroom sessions in an Oakland shoe store for over 200 participants.  We also facilitated additional sessions in Africa, hosting 2 in Uganda and 1 in both Elmina, Ghana and Arusha, Tanzania.  The Classrooms are designed to provide tools and information meant to decolonize the African mind.  With an emphasis on deconstructing false narratives and Eurocentric ideologies, the experience is an excellent introduction to the power of Black History.  Participants the world over have reported of being transformed by the experience and hungry to learn and know more. 

In 2018 we plan to continue to host Mr Davis Classroom sessions in Oakland and to make them free to attend for youth under the age of 18.  We also intend to facilitate MDC's internationally, in Trinidad and in South Africa.  At Edutainment for Equity we are always trying to find ways to make this information more accessible and inspiring to the next generation.  In that vein we are developing products, tool kits and other resources to further operationalize MDC and YGB.   it is our hope that these strategies and the materials we produce from them can help parents, educators and young people throughout the African diaspora maintain a passion for their history and culture. 

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YGB featured on a Grammy Nominated Album

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So its unusual that YGB would even appear on an album, but longtime YGB parent and friend Tommy Sheppherd ushered us into this journey by attending a YGB rehearsal and recording the youth.  At the rehearsal Tommy also interviewed YGB Director Laroilyn Davis and talked with the kids about solidarity and ally ship.  Both of these conversations were then placed as interludes including other elements of the rehearsal on the Alphabet Rockers Children's Album Rise Shine Woke.  Our youth were proud to be a part of the experience, and openly shared their perspectives on a number of issues that the album addresses.  Since little Tommy has been a member of YGB for several years, the young people freely participated, including young Zion who subsequently left YGB to continue working on the album.  

Long story short, the album has been named as a finalist to receive the 2018 Grammy Award for Children's Album of the year.  Also included on the album are other Bay Area celebrities, parents and friends of YGB.  Upon hearing the news the youth were very excited.  They all had copies of the album already, and were happy to hear of the national success the record seemed to be having.  The critical part of the album is the way it encourages young people to have conversations that many adults are scared to have.  The record is a marvel in the way that it evokes empathy and solidarity between races and helps create space for a new generation of people to tackle the misunderstandings and insincerity that often cause division in the US and around the world.  YGB is honored to have been part of such an amazing project.

Stay tuned to find out if Alphabet Rockers wins the Grammy.  They have already won the loyalty and respect of YGB.

YGB 2016

This year YGB has been engaged in more performances than ever in our history.  We have delivered dynamic presentations at historic events like the 50th Anniversary of the Black Panther Party, community events like the Life is Living Festival, churches and schools, and even for the Council for Islamic Relations.  All of the groups have been very active, including the group that returned from Africa in August and has been performing as a reflection of Black Gold ever since.  

2016 was a tremendous year where YGB was able to meet many historic and important contemporary heroes and sheroes, including many legends from the BPP.  Elaine Brown hosted YGB in a performance to open for Nate Parker at a screening of Birth of a Nation.  Colin Kapernik hosted members of YGB at his "Know Your Rights Conference", and gave those who attended copies of The Autobiography of Malcolm X.  The Black Sheroes met and performed for Alicia Garza, founder of the Black Lives Matter Movement and along side Cat Brooks, founder of the Anti Police Terror Project.  The Young Black Kings were featured on Sway in the Morning, and delivered several stellar individual performances as part of this experience.  The Kings were also featured at the Coalition for the Education of Boys and Men of Color in New York City.  Members of YGB competed at the Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Slam Festival with one member competing on the finals stage at the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts.  The Kids were featured on National Television in Iran, and in Ghana in 2016, and were featured in several multi media projects including a film tribute to the great Civil Rights hero Harry Belafonte.

YGB has taken a bunch of new members including a reconstituted Black Sheroes, and about 10 - 15 new members of YGB the Kids.  This years group features several singers, a large contingent of 8th graders, and is led by our Junior Youth Director Masi'a Abrams.  Masi'a is also a member of the Black Sheroes and the newest member of the joint Kings / Sheroes group.