MAKING A DIFFERENCE:
Fresh out of college in 2016, seeing the political and social unrest within the black community and having a friend fall victim to police brutality, Bryce Savoy, Royce Hughes, Kimani Elliott, Uzo Nwadugbo and Cory Elliott founded the Black Neighborhood.
The five men decided that if they wanted to see a change in their community, they had to be that change.
“What makes our organization different is that we actually come from these environments,” Savoy said. “This is another piece of the puzzle for us.”
Founded in the San Francisco Bay area and now present in Los Angeles and Brooklyn, New York, the Black Neighborhood is a youth empowerment program to provide black youth, 13 and older, with developmental workshops. The workshops cover community service, black empowerment, education, health and wellness, financial literacy and exploration through art.
The six-month program, located in Oakland, is meant to inspire black youth by providing them with the opportunity to interact and network with professionals in various fields.
“It inspires [the youth] because they can see people who look like them doing great things,” Hughes said. “They will know in their hearts and minds that they can do anything.”
The Black Neighborhood is expanding its outreach to Los Angeles. It will host the first Black Neighborhood LA event on July 20. The free event will be held monthly in attempts to gather black artists, entrepreneurs and young creatives. It will take place at 1430 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. from 1 to 6 p.m.
It will allow young people to come together to commune over food, art and music. The organization’s goal is to bring black people together.
Along with its Youth Empowerment Program, the Black Neighborhood hosts fresh produce and grocery giveaways in Oakland, book club events in Brooklyn and its newest program, Black Neighborhood LA.
The fresh produce and grocery giveaways, in partnership with Feed My Sheep and the Alameda County Community Food Bank, provide more than 100 families with groceries and fresh produce.
The giveaway takes place on the third Saturday of every month at DeFremery Park in West Oakland. The Brooklyn Book Club has a mission to promote unity, networking and community involvement. The club encourages reading and discussion of literary works by black authors.
The Turkey Drive takes place in Oakland in attempts to provide 500 turkeys and food bags to families in the community for Thanksgiving. The annual event takes place at People’s Baptist Church over a span of two days.
The first day allows volunteers to pack the food bags with turkeys, produce, rice, macaroni and cheese, and canned goods. On the second day, the families arrive at the church to collect their food bags. The items used to fill the bags are donated by Feed My Sheep by Forma Gym, the Rollins Family Foundation, and donations.
“It wasn’t until going to Howard and seeing black people from different walks of life that caused me to be more aware of who I am, where I come from and how I have a responsibility,” Savoy said. “Wherever we go, we take The Black Neighborhood with us.”
The founders expressed the hope that their organization will “take over the world” and “create self-sufficient black members of society.”
Nwadugbo said, “We want to change the narrative not only how others depict us, but how we depict ourselves.” Anyone interested in attending TBN events are welcome. Volunteers are encouraged to contact the organization by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To donate or for more information about the organization, visit www.theblackneighborhood.org.
Organization: The Black Neighborhood
By Sarah Jones-Smith