Above: Chuk Barber (right) teaches Camp Florence youth how to play drums.
“Your life is the direct result of your choices. A lot of times, people make the wrong choices because they don’t have options. Options are what expand your world exponentially.”
This was the main lesson that Chuk Barber shared with the youth at Camp Florence in mid-February as part of the facility’s Black History Month celebration.
Mr. Barber demonstrated through stories how options expanded his own world, where he went from being a bullied young Catholic school student in New York City to becoming a world-traveling musician, deep thinker, and leader for change.
OYA’s Office of Inclusion and Intercultural Relations (OIIR) invited Mr. Barber to Florence as part of a one-day celebration that also included sharing a cultural meal and watching and discussing the film “Men of Honor,” a true story about the life of Carl Brashear, who fought racism and discrimination in the U.S. Navy and became the world’s first Black master diver.
OIIR also hosted Black History Month events at MacLaren, Oak Creek, and Eastern Oregon youth correctional facilities.
At Florence, Mr. Barber shared his own family history first. His heritage included several Native American tribes, British, French, Spanish, Brazilian, and Nigerian.
He also told stories about how he used music to expand his own opportunities and get to where he is today. Mr. Barber traveled to many countries, learning to sing and play drums with The Neville Brothers, Bonnie Raitt, and others. He served two tours in Vietnam as a mastery gunnery sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps. He ultimately became the percussionist for the band War, and he played on their hit Low Rider. He continues to teach Afro-Brazilian and Afro-Caribbean Music while also fighting for justice and equality in society.
After sharing his stories, Mr. Barber taught the youth about African and Brazilian musical instruments and showed them how to play drums.
Black History Month educational events are one of many ways the OIIR team brings culturally relevant services, lessons, and programs to all youth in OYA custody. OIIR collaborates with youth, their families, and community members to create opportunities where youth can be physically and emotionally safe while growing emotionally and connecting with the community.
Images from Oak Creek
Oak Creek Youth Correctional Facility’s celebration included youth-created display boards about Black women in history. They presented their research to the other youth. Thanks to Bridgette with the OIIR team, plus Tim, John and Rosa at Oak Creek, for putting together this event.
Images from Eastern Oregon
Youth at Eastern Oregon Youth Correctional Facility focused their celebration on learning about three women, Berdis Baldwin, Alberta King, and Louise Little, who were mothers of famous Black men. Youth read the book “The Three Mothers” by Anna Malaika Tubbs and several youth gave a presentation about these mothers and how they contended with the prejudices of Jim Crow as Black women.