“The Griots of Oakland: Voices from the African American Oral History Project”

The African American Museum and Library at Oakland will host “The Griots of Oakland: Voices from the African American Oral History Project, “an exhibit that is opening on Saturday, Nov. 16 from 4 p.m. to 7p.m.

The opening celebration and book release will moderated by a local talent and include talks from leading educators, activists and participant youth. Community members will have time to voice their experiences and reactions to the exhibit, which will run through March 1.

The exhibit and book are the first project of their kind. Over the course of a year a group of African American male youth were trained in oral history methodologies and videography to conduct peer-to-peer interviews with about 100 African American boys and men aged 6-24 throughout Oakland.

The goal of the project is to highlight aspects of these young men’s realities that are often misunderstood and ignored by mainstream media and to change the discourse on how they are perceived to uplift their beauty, brilliance and humanity.

“Storytelling is a valuable health intervention tool that also promotes understanding of other peoples and cultures. In a story we feel connected to others, and this promotes equity, compassion, respect and responsibility as it connects us as a community,” said Tracey Schear, director of the Center for Healthy Schools and Communities.

The center partnered with Oakland Unified School District’s Office of African American Male Achievement (AAMA) and Story For All to produce The Griots of Oakland project, which is designed to raise awareness of equity issues throughout Alameda County.

Additional project supporters are Cal Humanities and the African American Museum and Library at Oakland.

The book includes quotes and statistics drawn from the interviews intermixed with portraits of the youth taken by an internationally recognized photographer. Project participants will be available for interviews and to autograph the book, which will be available for sale at the exhibit opening, in the Museum’s store and online at healthyschoolsandcomunities.org/griot.

Story For All (formerly Story Bridges) is a non-profit organization that designs storytelling programs that educate, empower, and heal people and communities. AAMA is the first, in-district department in the U.S. to apply a “Targeted Universalism” approach to create the culture, conditions, and competencies for equitable outcomes.

The Center for Healthy Schools and Communities fosters the academic success, health, and wellbeing of Alameda County youth by building universal access to high quality supports and opportunities in schools and neighborhoods.

The African American Museum and Library is located at 659 14th St. in Oakland. For more information contact Angela Zusman at (510) 295-7906 or angela@storyforall.org

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