YRU prepares for annual Black History Month presentation


courtesy Jillian Beaster

Entering February, Youth Rising Up, an advocacy club at Shorewood, is excited to present their annual Black History Month presentation. 

Juniors MaHailey Stephens and Bella Busby are co-presidents of the club and believe it offers many important benefits.

“Being involved in YRU gives you another sense of identity because [it helps you] to grow into yourself,” Stephens said. “Having that support system here of people that look like you and have the same experiences as you really evolves you as a person and how you interact with others overall.”

An exciting annual project for members of Youth Rising Up is the Black History Month presentation.

“Our main focus is black excellence,” Busby said. “This year, we are doing a 100 year timeline, starting from the early 1900s and up to the present day, highlighting many significant eras.”

A Collective Consciousness is a short film that focuses on six eras of crucial time-periods, with the categories The New Negro Movement, The Harlem Renissance, The Birth of the Civil Rights Movement, Black Arts Movement, The Shift of Black Excellence, and The New Renissance.  

“Within those six categories, we are listing a few individuals who were staples in the movements, and how they were influential to the Black community then and now,” Stephens said. “We are focusing on moments in time where Black Excellence was shown, appreciated and celebrated because we don’t often see that.”

For the video, club member Sherrod Fowler held interviews with small business owners around Milwaukee, which he believes to be beneficial to everyone involved.

“We [figured] teens here like clothing, so we thought we would feature clothing brands,” Fowler said. “We put two and two together; they are helping us out and we are promoting their business.”

As the presentation date nears and things begin to come together, eagerness within the club heightens. 

“Even though it’s the crunch time and we’re cramming, the show is [becoming] real,” Busby said. “This is our first live show in around three years, and watching it all come together is always super cool.”

Tanisha Schowalter, Nelson Brown, and Brandon Hemphill assisted as well, and club members appreciated the jurisdiction given to them.

“I liked how the advisors gave members of Youth Rising Up control, so we ran it more than the adults,” Fowler said.

The creation process is impactful for participants, as Black History Month provides a deeper meaning. 

“Learning more about my heritage and the heritage of Black people in the United States is always something that I am learning more and more about,” Busby said. “This is a perfect opportunity for me to deepen my knowledge of that.”

“The Black History Month program gives us a chance to share our own narratives,” Stephens said. “We’re able to openly and freely voice our thoughts, opinions and concerns without any reservations.”

The Black History Month presentation will take place in the auditorium Wednesday, February 22nd during advisory, and will be presented at 7 o’clock for community members.