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

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Toni Morrison died last week at the age of 88. Morrison is perhaps best known for her work, “Beloved,” but her work spans six decades and includes novels, children’s books, plays, an opera, and more. As reported by Time Magazine, Morrison was largely ignored as a writer for about a decade in the 1970s, but that changed and she “widened the nation’s literary canon, serving as its conscience through trying times and establishing herself as the keeper of its marginalized histories.” She was honored with the Nobel Prize in Literature, among many other accolades.

This hour, we’re joined by local writers who discuss Morrison’s life and work, and her legacy reflecting and influencing the lives of black Americans. In studio:

  • Leslie C. Youngblood, author of “Love Like Sky”
  • Tokeya C. Graham, English professor, and founder of “We All Write” black women’s writing consortium
  • Lu Highsmith, program director of LuCreations Production, former leader of the Roc Bottom Slam Poetry team, and member of “We All Write” black women’s writing consortium

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg has a plan to combat systemic racial inequality. His "Douglass Plan," named after abolitionist Frederick Douglass, would create a $10 billion fund for black entrepreneurs over five years, while also investing in historically black colleges, reducing the prison population, legalizing marijuana, passing a new Voting Rights Act, and more. Buttigieg says his proposal is equal in scale to the Marshall Plan.

We break down the Douglass Plan with our guests, and discuss its potential impact, successes, and gaps. In studio:

  • Adrian Hale, senior manager of workforce and economic development and education initiatives at the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce
  • Simeon Banister, vice president of community programs at the Rochester Area Community Foundation
  • Robin Wilt, member of the Brighton Town Board

We sit down with Rev. Marvin McMickle, the retiring president of Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School. McMickle announced his plans to retire last year; his last day is Sunday.

We talk to him about a range of issues, including his accomplishments at Colgate, political discourse, equality, racism, religious freedom, and more. 

We sit down with people of color in the local LGBTQ community to discuss identity, how they find belonging, and how they recruit allies. Our guests share their personal stories, the challenges they face – including healthcare disparities – and their ideas for how to create a more inclusive society.

In studio:

The Irondequoit Police Department is working to improve the diversity within its ranks. We discuss the department's efforts and how having more officers of color can impact policing and police-community relations.

In studio:

  • Chief Richard Tantalo, Irondequoit Police Department
  • Patrina Freeman, community advocate, minister, and founder of New Directions Ministries
  • Randy Henderson, president of Henderson Ford, minister at the Church of Love Faith Center, and police chaplain
  • Andrae Evans, community member with the Irondequoit Police Community Advisory Team, and retired U.S. Army Colonel
  • Thomas Brady, co-chair and founder of the Greater Rochester Chapter of Conscious Capitalism

Dr. Jerome Jean-Gilles

The Pittsford Central School District is defending its handling of a Black History Month project that went wrong. WXXI News reached out to the district after a Pittsford parent noticed what he called egregious errors in an elementary school project intended to honor African American inventors.

Dr. Jerome Jean-Gilles was picking up his children from their school when he noticed dozens of posters lining the main hallway.

“They told me the theme of the project was to celebrate a hundred black inventors,” Jean-Gilles said.

Keuka College is preparing to welcome Beverly Tatum, author of “Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?” Here’s how the college describes her upcoming presentation: “Dr. Tatum explores the ramifications of an education system that remains separate and very much unequal. Why are public schools still so overwhelmingly segregated? What does that mean for students of all backgrounds? And most importantly, what can be done about it?”

Our guests on Connections:

  • Aqua Porter, vice chair of the Keuka College Board of Trustees
  • Alan Ziegler, member of the Rochester Area Business Ethics Foundation, and member of Table 23

The documentary “Don’t Be Nice” tells the story of five slam poets from New York City who have teamed up to compete for a national title. Their coach encourages them to push past the entertainment value of the form and write and speak from a place of vulnerability, confronting painful issues related to race, gender, sexuality, and identity.

The film will be screened as part of the Black Cinema Series at the Little Theatre on Friday. We preview the film with its director and local slam poets who share their process. Our guests:

When a local broadcaster made racist remarks about former Rochester Mayor Bill Johnson, the mayor never called for that broadcaster to be fired. He thought it was more important to find out if someone is capable of growth, of learning, of understanding.

Today, we sit down with Johnson to discuss his views on recent events, from Rochester to his native Virginia. Johnson discusses how he believes we should approach the revelations of racist actions or statements.