The stage was set for The Griots of Oakland 10th Anniversary event with our head of Marketing Communications, Carrie Crespo, taking the audience back to where we were as a nation a decade ago as a reminder of the time span of the journey of the six panelists present; Kahlil Chatmon, Tre Germany, Jarvis Henry, Sean Johnson, NeQ’uwan Taylor and Terrell Toliver. The discussion, introduced and moderated by The Griots of Oakland original curator and founder of Story For All, Angela Zusman, who also gave context for the project and the importance of teaching and preserving oral history.
The Griots Anniversary event featured a number of esteemed speakers, including the City of Oakland’s newly elected Mayor Sheng Thao. Mayor Thao gave a heartfelt welcome to the audience, sharing her own personal story of overcoming a past that included being a Hmong refugee, domestic violence survivor and single mother at one point sleeping in her car. Her message to the Kings was one of perseverance, that it is indeed possible to overcome obstacles, to keep believing in dreams because they can come true no matter the odds against them.
The Mayor’s words were an ideal follow-up to CEO Chatmon’s introduction which focused on the power of story, the importance of understanding, as he often reflects, knowing who and whose you are. He announced that Kingmakers of Oakland and Story for All will look to partner next year and expand our Youth Participatory Action Research program. We plan to publish new Griots of Oakland editions to establish a process and a structure for student leadership, voice, and agency. Visit our website for the latest announcements about the launch.