Dear Black men: Help us save the lives of young Black men and boys by simply writing a letter!

by Thomas Robert Simpson, AfroSolo

Inspired by President Barack Obama’s “My Brothers Keeper” initiative, AfroSolo (afrosolo.org) will launch Project Empowerment: The Audacity to Succeed II. A major outcome of this project will be an anthology entitled “Lighting up the Future: Letters From Black Men to Young Black Men and Boys.” This will be a collection of letters from Black men designed to celebrate, uplift and motivate young Black men and boys to successfully transcend youth to adulthood. We cordially invite your participation.

AfroSolo Empowerment Hands, webThe letters will be from a diverse section of Black men – clergy, politicians, academics, executives, entertainers, formerly incarcerated etc. A letter conveying your thoughts, experiences and/or lessons learned would be a tremendous asset towards propelling these youths successfully into manhood. The contents of your letter will be of your choice, including any personal challenges, stories, advice and/or inspirational words you wish to share.

Why such a letter? Black men have often been stereotyped as being absent, distant, uncaring etc. towards young Black men and boys. “Lighting up the Future” will be a powerful testimony of the care, love and support we have for our youths.

Our initial goal is to raise funds to donate 500 copies of “Lighting up the Future” to juvenile halls, schools, libraries and community organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area, then to other parts of the country. Although each letter will be different, we anticipate that they will share our vision to celebrate, give hope, uplift and/or, momentously, let our young men know they have support from their community.

We are accepting letters of 750 words or less in length. We need your letter by April 30, 2015, to meet a publication deadline. You will retain copyright ownership of the letter, but with your permission, we will make it available in as many forms and media as possible to support our youths.

Why such a letter? Black men have often been stereotyped as being absent, distant, uncaring etc. towards young Black men and boys. “Lighting up the Future” will be a powerful testimony of the care, love and support we have for our youths.

Your participation will be a powerful and positive message to our Black youths that we treasure them and that they “do matter.” We look forward to your affirmative response. Please email your letter to thomas@afrosolo.org. If you have any further questions, contact me at that email address, call me at 415-771-2376 or write to me at AfroSolo Theatre Company, 762 Fulton St., Suite 307, San Francisco, CA 94102. For more info about AfroSolo, visit afrosolo.org.

AfroSolo logo, webAbout us

AfroSolo Theatre Company’s mission to nurture, promote and present the lives of Black people through solo performances and the visual and literary arts. AfroSolo is also noted for curating informative panel discussions and producing culturally stimulating community engagement events. For 21 years, the critically acclaimed and award winning company has received many accolades and is held in very high esteem in the San Francisco Bay Area’s arts community.

Project Empowerment: The Audacity to Succeed grew from the concern by AfroSolo’s founder and artistic director Thomas R. Simpson with the disproportion of Black youths locked up in San Francisco’s juvenile justice facility. Close to 60 percent or more are often Black boys, whereas fewer than 6 percent of San Francisco’s population is Black. After careful research, it was found that this was not unusual in many parts of the country.

Determined to use the arts to help decrease this reality, Project Empowerment was born. It has two parts: the compilation of “Lighting up the Future: Letters From Black Men to Young Black Men and Boys” and an annual summit, “Young Black Men and Boys Soaring into the Future,” where established Black men will mentor, inspire and motivate young Black men and boys to successfully transcend youth to adulthood.

Thomas Robert Simpson is founder and artistic director of AfroSolo Theatre Company. To reach him, email thomas@afrosolo.org, call 415-771-2376 or visit afrosolo.org.