Youth Share History, Art at Black History Month Event

MacLaren’s celebration included youth poetry and songs, plus two prominent community speakers.

Above: Youth Derrick C. presents on African American history.

By Roderick Edwards
OYA Office of Inclusion and Intercultural Relations

In honor of Black History Month, the OYA Office of Inclusion and Intercultural Relations presented a Black Love and Empowerment event on Feb. 23 at MacLaren Youth Correctional Facility.

Educational components of the celebration revolved around notable African Americans in history, including: Madam CJ Walker, Benjamin Banneker, Assata Shakur, James Baldwin, Angela Davis, Shirley Chisholm, and Huey P. Newton.

Also at the event, attendees enjoyed a traditional meal and youth shared their own songs and poetry. Titles included “Sorry Momma,” “Pressure,” “For Me,” and “Reminiscing and Power (Poem)”.

Attendees heard from guest speakers Walidah Imarisha and Ray Leary, who shared their thoughts around black love and empowerment, and how these two things can drastically change the young men’s lives for the better.

Imarisha is a writer, educator, public scholar, and poet who has been working with youth at MacLaren for over five years. Leary is a contractor with OYA and president of The I Am Academy, a transition program that allows youth to address who they are and what they stand for in relation to the phrase, “I Am.”

In addition to MacLaren, multiple other OYA facilities also hosted Black History Month celebrations in February, including Camp Tillamook, Tillamook Youth Correctional Facility, Oak Creek Youth Correctional Facility, Rogue Valley Youth Correctional Facility, Eastern Oregon Youth Correctional Facility, and Camp Riverbend.

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