By: Taylor Duarte, JTF student volunteer & bluapple poet
Artistry. Bravery. Fierceness. Freedom. Those four words represented the Jason Taylor Foundation’s twelve bluapple poets on Sunday, June 23. At the closing ceremony of the American Black Film Festival (ABFF) twelve wonderfully gifted teenagers were given the chance to perform for more than three hundred festival-goers at the Colony Theatre in Miami Beach. As the leading film festival in the world for African American and urban content, the bar was set high. With Omari Hardwick, actor and spoken word poet, as the Ambassador for this year’s ABFF, he created the opportunity for these young artists to share their voices with an audience that truly appreciates art in any form.
After two months of hard work and dedication, with practices held at the Sunrise Civic Center and led by Darius Daughtry, the new director of the Omari Hardwick bluapple Poetry Programs, the brilliantly choreographed, 25-minute final product came together on that special day. Hearts were racing, palms were sweating, skin was tingling, and adrenaline was running as the poets roused the crowd and elicited a standing ovation at the culmination of the performance. Moved to tears, Hardwick expressed pride and gratitude for being able to be part of such a great movement and share this group with members of the Miami community. Especially with family and friends among the crowd, it was a day to remember for all.
With twelve poets representing nine different Broward County high schools, there was Shellessa Constantine (McArthur H.S.), Taylor Duarte (Cypress Bay H.S.), Aeirian Exalien (Coral Glades H.S.), Douglas Goodridge (Dillard H.S.), Alyssa Jones (Nova H.S.), Garrett Jones (Piper H.S.), Peter Lange (Northeast H.S.), Jarah Prato (Stranahan H.S.), Hailey Price (Northeast H.S.), Autumn Williams (Miramar H.S.), Khylie Williams (Miramar H.S.), and Zoharian Williams (Piper H.S.).
All talented in their own, unique ways, these young lyricists lit up the ABFF stage with their passion and conviction. Expressing desires for change, an end to stereotypes, equality, and a vision for the future, the bluapple poets ignited a spark within the crowd. They are the next generation, the future of this country, and they are here to show the world exactly how powerful a voice can be.