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Connections: Previewing the 2019 Clarissa Street Reunion


The Clarissa Street Reunion is the largest independently organized African American festival in Rochester. The annual event is set for Saturday, and organizers say they expect to see more youth engagement at this year’s festival. Teen Empowerment has been working with young people in the community to train them as history ambassadors for the area. The ambassadors say they’ve learned Clarissa Street is a microcosm of Rochester’s history – from music and black-owned businesses, to redlining, institutional racism, and poverty.

The ambassadors join us, along with longtime Clarissa Street residents, to preview the festival and to discuss how the neighborhood has changed over the last several decades. In studio:

  • Shanterra Randle, lead coordinator of the Clarissa St. Reunion Youth History Ambassadors project at Teen Empowerment, and social studies and special education teacher at Monroe High School
  • Amarah Anderson, youth organizer and history ambassador at Teen Empowerment and 10th grader at School of the Arts
  • Elijah Hudson, history ambassador at Teen Empowerment, and recent graduate of Rochester Prep
  • Jaylen Wims, history ambassador at Teen Empowerment, and student at Pittsford Sutherland through the Urban-Suburban Program
  • George Fontenette, Clarissa Street Reunion Committee elder,  and longtime resident of the Clarissa Street area
  • Moses Gilbert, Clarissa Street Reunion Committee elder,  and longtime resident of the Clarissa Street area
  • Mel Henderson, co-chair of the Clarissa Street Reunion Committee


Evan Dawson is the host of "Connections with Evan Dawson." He joined WXXI in January 2014 after working at 13WHAM-TV, where he served as morning news anchor. He was hired as a reporter for 13WHAM-TV in 2003 before being promoted to anchor in 2007.
Megan Mack is the executive producer of "Connections with Evan Dawson" and live/televised engagement programming.