Donovan Livingston
Award-winning educator and public speaker Donovan Livingston will speak at an upcoming youth poetry event. (

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Standing on the principles of empowering children, a Maryland-based organization will hold this weekend its very first spoken-word poetry event for community youth.

On Saturday, April 22 at 3 p.m. at the Montgomery College Cultural Arts Center, Jack and Jill of America, the oldest and largest black family organization in the United States, will highlight the ingenuity and creativity of youth, with an added oratorical presentation from prolific award-winning educator and public speaker Donovan Livingston, author of “Lift Off: From the Classroom to the Stars.”

Yaminah Leggett-Wells, president of the Montgomery County chapter of Jack and Jill of America, championed the experience for youth.

“While thinking of additional programs to offer Montgomery youth, we decided that really wanted to offer some sort of forum that would really help are children express themselves,” Leggett-Wells said. “What made us choose spoken word were the words recited by Donovan Livingston during his Harvard Graduate School of Education speech that went viral. It resonated with so many of us because I believe that as parents and educators and officials, that we all want to see out youth progress into great leaders and dynamic adults.”

The event is purposed to provide the youth an opportunity to recite personal narratives, jump-start their thinking concerning life to and post-college and to provide them with an opportunity to hear from Livingston.

“You know, anything that involves the youth I am excited about,” Livingston said. “I am honored to be a part of this event and to be able to tell students that it is OK to rise above any institution that may try to silence them. That anyplace they find themselves in, that they have the right to be themselves.

“Usually my time is spent speaking to educators, teachers and politicians, but I find that it is so important not to lose sight of why we are really here in the first place,” he said. “I learn a lot from [youth].”

Lauren Poteat is a versatile writer with a strong background in communications and media experience with an additional background in education and development.

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