OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- The Black Literary Collective is a group of published and award-winning Black authors who provide socially and culturally relevant content about the Black experience in classrooms on the local, national and international level.
ABC7 News had a (virtual) face-to-face conversation with Tyson Amir, the founder of the Black Literary Collective, and Michael "Ice Mike" Davis, the organization's earliest participating author, to learn more about their work.
BUILDING A BETTER BAY AREA: Race and social justice
Read their explanation and story behind the organization below:
"I said it would be so dope for us to put together a team, like a super team of Black authors and then start bringing them to the communities, bringing them to schools," Tyson Amir said. "One of the first authors that I met where I was like, 'Yeah I need to partner with this brother,' is Michael Davis. Ice Mike."
"At that time, I had just been released from prison," Davis said. "I hadn't been out even 30 days and I wanted to gravitate towards positive change."
Davis continued, "We started vibing, connecting real tough in terms of what we saw in bringing together a collection of powerful writers together. You know, published authors together, like something that had never been done before. I don't think right now for the state (California) there exists a dozen writers, all published, all genres, children's books to poetry, awarding winning, emotional intelligence...you know different variations of what we cover."
"The BLACK program is evolutionary for us because as the title says, 'Building Leaders and Activists with Collective Knowledge,'" Amir said. "They're going to get writing skills, the common core and the content standards that the state of California or the United States wants them to be exposed to, but in addition to that, they're going to get the social, political, the cultural, foundation that we should have. We know the school system is not going to give them that because we know the school system was never set up to educate our community properly."
Amir went on, "As a collective of writers, we can help bridge that gap or interrupt and then bring in that revolutionary education that so many young people are hungry for."
"I use poetry to explore childhood trauma because that's something that negatively impacted me so much in my life," Davis said. "I wanted to be able to share that with young people so that they can learn to articulate their emotions and identify some certain triggers or traumas that impact them. Then, provide them a platform to express themselves."
Davis continued, "Oftentimes they are shut down and don't feel like they have a voice. So, we try to provide that in a classroom setting or in space where they feel safe to express themselves and be creative with that expression."
"We went from regular programming, to now we're designing curriculum," Amir said. "We're helping the departments- social studies departments; English departments- redesign their offering for students. Now we're training teachers. We now have district wide relationships."
To learn more about the Black Literary Collective, visit this page.
See more stories and videos about Building a Better Bay Area here.