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Councilman Bernard Parks, Los Angeles Urban League, Crenshaw High School delegation and choir, and sponsor representatives gathered at City Hall. photo by Brian W. Carter
Crenshaw High students, the L.A. Urban League, and sponsors meet with L.A. city council before their journey to China.
Brian W. Carter, Sentinel Staff Writer
On Friday, July 1, the Los Angeles Urban League (LAUL) and Councilman Bernard Parks held a press conference announcing the Crenshaw2China (C2C) Educational & Cultural Exchange. The delegation is made up of 35 Crenshaw High School students, including the Crenshaw Elite Choir, who will be traveling courtesy of American Airlines on July 14 – 23, 2011 to Shanghai and Beijing, China.
LAUL President & CEO, Blair H. Taylor will lead the delegation. The Bernard & Shirley Kinsey Art and History Collection is the focus of Chinese and Crenshaw Students cultural exchange.
“Graduation rates at Crenshaw, under our partnership, which we launched three years ago, are up 57%,” said Taylor. “We’ve got more of our young people getting out of high school with [good] grades from this school than ever before.”
“I want to commend the Urban League and Blair for looking at a way to expose our community and our young people [to]…a life changing experience,” said Parks. “I think it’s these kinds of things that give our young people the opportunity to come back and to renew their efforts [as they] relate to education.”
“All too often, our inner city children don’t have the opportunity to get involved in the big picture of what’s happening in our world,” said Taylor. “The world is full of opportunities, but if you’re not aware of [them], and you haven’t seen [them], and you haven’t experienced [them], it’s really hard to engage with [them].”
So what this trip is all about is exposing our young people to the opportunities that are available to [them] in the 21st century.”
Taylor thanked the corporate sponsors for the trip—The Kinsey’s, Starbucks, Mattel Inc., American Airlines, MSNBC, and the United Parcel Service (UPS). Some of the representatives from these corporations had a few words for the young people.
“On behalf of my parents, Bernard and Shirley Kinsey, I just want to say how proud we are to be apart of this delegation…that will be going to China,” said Khalil Kinsey. The Kinsey’s personal collection of African- American art has been on display nationally for the past six years, most recently at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.
Their book, the Kinsey Collection, was given as a textbook to students to study the richness of African American history from 1600’s to the civil rights era. The Kinsey’s recently invited the student delegation to their home as part of an intensive training course to see some of the artifacts up close.
“The goal of the Starbucks partnership with the Los Angeles Urban League is simple,” said Starbuck representative, Kimberly Thompson. “We wanted to help the students at Crenshaw High to be successful in school and beyond.”
Southern Region President of UPS, Noel Massie stated that this trip made sense seeing how the world is more global than ever before thanks to technology. “UPS is a global organization representing 220 countries with 400,000 employees—we understand the global economy,” said Massie. They also provided a travel bags, back-packs and other UPS items to the delegation of students.
“I have traveled before but China is a completely different experience,” said student delegation spokesperson, Jahnae Miller. “I hope to gain a better understanding of the economy and global/international business.”
“It’s a great experience coming out of South Central L.A., coming out of Crenshaw, not that many opportunities come our way,” said student delegate, Isaiah Taylor. “ I feel very appreciative of the trip from the sponsors to have an opportunity to be able to go.”
“It’s going to open new doors for me in my life,” said student delegate, Saadia Saenz said “It’s going to help me get to where I want to be and to be somebody.”
The Crenshaw Elite Choir will also be going with the student delegation to China. Their trip is being sponsored courtesy of American Airlines. The choir presented a surprise, live performance in honor of Parks in the rotunda at City Hall. They also gave a powerful performance, which included a step routine, before the city council.
“It’s a blessing, it just came out of nowhere,” said Crenshaw choir member, Tyrell Brown. ”I just joined the choir and since then…all these opportunities have just been coming—back-to-back-to-back.
“I can not think of a more exciting and celebratory moment than this,” said Taylor. “Everybody knows we’re at work at Crenshaw. First and foremost, good things are happening at Crenshaw High School.”
Founded in 1921, the Los Angeles Urban League is recognizing 90 years of service to our Los Angeles communities. The League is the city’s premier organization in advancing equal opportunities on behalf of African Americans and other minority youths and adults through innovative job training, job placement, youth achievement and business development programs. Through its collective award-winning programs, services and advocacy activities and seven offices located in the Crenshaw District, South Los Angeles, and Pomona, the Los Angeles Urban League serves over 100,000 constituents annually. Blair H. Taylor serves as the President & CEO of the Los Angeles Urban League, one of the largest and most successful affiliates of the National Urban League, which has affiliates in 100 cities throughout the United States.