My purpose is to help inspire young African American males to be the best they can be. – Brother DaQuann, Education Architect
There are unique moments in the Life Pieces year when the day-to-day efforts coalesce into one beautiful display of maturity and self-expression. Education Architects and Saturday Academy’s “The Final Presentation,” on June 24th, 2017, was just that. This year’s presentation showcased new artwork from the young men and the personal stories of betterment that tied along with them. The young men recited powerful words of famous leaders they studied throughout the year, and spoke of their future goals and aspirations, connecting it back to their purpose as intelligent, driven, and introspective young black men. A majority of the content was original work that highlighted the creativity and unique connections that the young men made to the material taught through the Human Development System.
Hosted at Pepco Edison Gallery Place and in front of a crowd of nearly one hundred, Life Pieces To Masterpieces offered Certificates of Completion to fifteen young men, making it the largest Final Presentation in Life Pieces history in terms of attendance. An additional certificate of soul names was presented to Brother Tre’Von Davis – given the soul name of Brother Quiet Storm, and Brother Keith Crawford – given the soul name of Brother Heritage. These are individualized names reserved for young men who have been in the program for at least two years and have a unique character trait that Life Pieces leadership believes embodies the principles promoted within the LPTM community. The presenter of the certificates, Elder Bill, spoke heartily of the young men receiving the soul names. He also went on to note the generational gains within the black community he has witnessed throughout his life, and he lauded all the young men on their continuation of those strides.
The atmosphere was ceremonious, the words were moving, and the artwork was thought provoking. It was evident how proud the families and friends in the audience were of their young men. In his Last Words speech, Brother Tyrin, who was completing Saturday Academy, left the audience misty eyed with a touching tribute to his mother who enrolled him in the program in 2015.
The entire event went very well. It was very emotional because it was closing a chapter of my life. It was transformative being at Saturday Academy so that presentation was kind of like saying goodbye. – Brother Tyrin, Saturday Academy Apprentice.
The Pepco Gallery was decorated with Life Pieces artwork, and the young men spoke candidly about their own life experiences, eloquently tying those experiences with their classroom knowledge. It was this quality of character and rightly earned confidence that defined the morning. Brother Da’Quann of Education Architects shouted proudly: “My purpose is to help inspire young African American males to be the best they can be,” while the closing remarks of former Life Pieces Apprentice, Brother Knight, focused on the limitless power of each of the young men.
The presentations were outstanding. It all went so smoothly. To me, it felt like a new beginning. It made me aware again that I will be transitioning from high school to college soon. – Brother Elijah, Saturday Academy Apprentice
Brother Elijah is a rising junior and hopes to attend Princeton to study Political Science. Elijah certainly has the self-discipline to make that dream a reality, and role models who make any dream feel attainable surround him.
Sister Christina Martinez-Williams and Brother Alfonso Beale, the coordinators of Education Architects and Saturday Academy, spent hours and hours preparing the young men or the presentation. At the suggestion of Aunt Lo, they ensured that a sense of continuation and community was built into the presentation. Portions of the morning included the boys of Legacy and Kings I & II having a back and forth with the presenters. Their efforts to orchestrate the event led to a compelling display.
Aunt Lo cites the “I Am” poem presented by Brothers Tyrin, Elijah, and La’Shahn as her favorite part of the morning. The original poem, written by John Clare in 1848, was part of the Saturday Academy’s lesson on mental health. Opening a dialogue around mental health was an important component of the lesson. Since its origination, the poem’s structure has been turned into a template that allows the reader to author his own version. By writing their own verses, this meant that the brothers presented a novel version of the “I Am” poem. Aunt Lo said it was this nascence of their creativity that made the moment so sentimental.
The event was celebrated with a catering of health-conscious snacks, light music, and plenty of conversation. The young men and their families, past Life Pieces Apprentices, current and former staff and board members all came together. In addition to the lessons learned and the artworks the young men created, are the memories shared and ties that bind us as these young men continue on their journeys.
Congratulations to Education Architects and Saturday Academy on an inspiring and deeply moving Final Presentation.