The auditorium at the Richard Green MS 113 Campus was transformed with today’s community leaders reciting poetry, recalling their experiences of overcoming bias and inequality and encouraging the more than 700 youngsters in the audience for the 11th annual YOUTH SPEAKS conference to follow their dreams.
Hosted by the Bronx Youth Empowerment Program (YEP) in partnership with NYC Council Member Andy King, the teens received insight on what it’s like to become an actor, police officer, professional basketball player, a school administrator, compete in the Olympics or start their own business.
Fifteen schools throughout the 12th Council District participated in conference. The theme was equality and a short video on the U.S. Constitution’s Three-Fifth Clause was shown.
“The Three-Fifth Clause still affects us today,” said Bronx YEP member Amear Rattray, a junior at the High School for Contemporary Arts, about struggles and inequality in communities of color.
Members of Bronx YEP led the question and answer session with panelists City Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina, Fred Mwangaguhunga, Silver-Medal Olympian Daryl Homer, Actor L. Steven Taylor, who plays the part of Mufasa in The Lion King on Broadway and his fellow cast members, Lt. Sanders of the 47th Precinct; and Kevin “Butter” Johnson, who plays professional basketball in Australia.
“Follow your journey,” said Johnson, who told students about his experience as special education student in school. “Through it all, I followed my journey in basketball and I have an amazing life traveling across the world.”
Prior to the panel discussion, Chancellor Farina was surprised by members of Bronx YEP and the Council Member King with the presentation of the 12th District Council Real Leadership Award in honor of her more than 50 years of leadership in New York City schools.