Initiatives and Events

I. Westside Youth Speak

Hip Hop Is Hip Hop Is Our Vibranium Panel, March 31, 2018. Photo courtesy of Communities Who Know, Inc.™

Westside Youth Speak, coordinated by Dr. Jacqueline Jones Royster, is a workshop series led by Dr. Joycelyn Wilson and Mr. John Thornton.  It merges our interests in the linkages between social justice and narrative justice.  The focus is on helping participating youth to:

  • Use hip hop music as a critical framework for thinking about the strengths, challenges, and opportunities in their communities and for designing strategies for positive action going forward.
  • Use digital tools to find, understand, and visualize various types of data as documentary evidence for their views.
  • Create short documentary videos that tell their own stories and the stories of their community.

Participants in the series are students at Benjamin E. Mays High School (Mays) in Southwest Atlanta.  Three respresentatives from this group were selected to attend the 2018 NGLN Summit at the Middlebury College Bread Loaf School of English.

Through workshops, students, as the future leaders of their communities, demonstrate their capacity to:

  • share their views and ideas regarding issues and challenges they care about deeply.
  • participate actively as citizens of their own communities in well-grounded, thoughtful, and articulate ways.
Hip Hop Is Our Vibranium Screening, March 31, 2018. Photo courtesy of Communities Who Know, Inc.™

This series, which began in March 2018, is the second set of NextGen-ATL™ workshops.  The first series occurred in the summer of 2017.  It was hosted by Raising Expectations, Inc., a youth development program.  As with the 2018 series, this first one was also led by Dr. Royster, Dr. Wilson, and Mr. Thornton.  The theme was literacy, leadership, and action.  It brought together 27 Booker T. Washington High School students who focused on:

  • Community Knowledge
  • Appreciation of Art, History, and Culture
  • Multi-media Expression
  • Social Awareness, Social Justice, and Evidenced-Based Action.

Three of the students were selected to attend the 2017 NGLN Summit.

II. These Halls Can Talk

In Spring 2018, NextGen-ATL™ began partnering with These Halls Can Talk, an oral history project that is centered at Booker T. Washington High School (BTW), located on the Westside of downtown Atlanta.  BTW was the first high school for African American children Southeast of the Mississippi River.  The project is directed by Shalesia Brewer, a BTW alum. 

The goals of this project resonate well with the goals stated above for Westside Students Speak, encouraging the students to appreciate their own communities and to tell their own stories using digital media.  The focus in These Halls Can Talk is on working with students to conduct oral histories of community members with ties to BTW and document these experiences and perspectives in videos–with the intention of building students’ historical knowledge of BTW as a precious community resource about which current students should be deeply proud.   

Special Events

“Hip Hop is Our Vibranium”: A Youth Forum on Black Panther, Community Resilience, and Cultural Representation (March 31, 2018) at The Gathering Spot

This event included a screening of the film Black Panther followed by a forum with Mays High School students, Dr. Susanna Morris (an expert on Afrofuturism), Dr. Joycelyn Wilson (an expert on Hip-Hop culture as contemporary musical form and its socio-cultural contexts), and Mr. Jay Carter (founder of the ONE Music Fest).  The panel discussed various cultural elements of the film and its soundtrack.


Reimagining Education: The 150th Anniversary Celebration of the Southern Education Foundation (November 14-25, 2017)

The organizers of this event, invited NextGen-ATL™ to organize a youth panel from NGLN, including themselves (two students from BTW), and students from the Louisville, Kentucky Team and the Allen-Aiken, South Carolina Team.   The students showed short videos that they had created through NGLN activities and discussed their learning experiences.


Health Impacts of Mass Incarceration (Oct 2, 2017), Georgia Institute of Technology

This public event brought together experts on health disparities, mass incarceration, and social justice, and offered one of the youth who was most interested in mass incarceration the opportunity to be part of a substantive and vibrant discussion as an invited guest.

Hip Hop Is Our Vibranium Panel, March 31, 2018. Photo courtesy of Communities Who Know, Inc.™
Hip Hop Is Our Vibranium Screening, March 31, 2018. Photo courtesy of Communities Who Know, Inc.™