February 2, 2023

Black History Month Celebrations at Avenues for Justice

In celebration of Black History Month, Avenues for Justice (AFJ) will showcase the rich, creative expressions of a number of African American artists with our Participants. The two events taking place at our Harlem community center, will feature prominent poets and musicians, and highlight the importance of their work to American culture.

The first event will take place this afternoon with our very own in-house poet and Court Advocate, Tiffany, discussing Maya Angelou. In addition to being a renowned poet, Maya Angelou was also a singer, dancer, Grammy-winning composer, director, and actor. She was hailed as trailblazer for her role as a civil rights leader who fought for social and racial justice. Tiffany will read Maya Angelou’s “Still I Rise” to our Participants.

 “Maya Angelou is one of my all-time favorite poets. The poem "Still I Rise" resonates with me because it is about self-respect and confidence. In the poem, she reveals how she will overcome anything through herself-esteem. She shows how nothing can get her down. She will rise to any occasion and nothing, not even her skin color, will hold her back. I find this poem and all her work very inspiring,” notes Tiffany.

In addition to Tiffany’s reading, Court Advocates, Brain and Nora, will read a selection of poems from various prominent African American poets. This celebration goes beyond recognizing the achievements of African American authors and poets. It honors their wonderful stories in a way that makes us realize how much they have impacted our lives through their artistic contributions, personal sacrifices and relentless pursuit of justice and equality.

The second event will take place on February 16th and will feature the short film “Two Distant Strangers”. Released on Netflix in 2020, the film highlights the struggles of over policing in African American communities. It examines police brutality leading to deadly encounters through the eyes of Brooklyn rapper Joey BadA$$. Nearly three years after the murder of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Admaud Arbery, which sparked uprisings across the country, this film remains relevant today. It resonates particularly in light of Tyre Nichol's tragic murder at the hands of Memphis Police. Like in 2020, AFJ is committed to providing our Participants with a safe space to discuss their feelings. We want our Participants to be able to unpack their emotions from witnessing and experiencing the impact of negative encounters with the criminal justice system---whether in their communities or collectively in the public arena.

The hours are 4pm to 6pm for both events at our Harlem community center. In keeping with Black History Month tradition, soul food will be prepared for our Participants by Harlem’s own Chef Quie of Charles Pan Fried Chicken.


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