Poetry Reading

Leila Mottley, Oakland's 2018 Youth Poet Laureate -- February 17, 2019

Call to Worship for today:
"Still I Rise", Maya Angelou


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Leila Mottley is a 17 year old student at Oakland School of the Arts, who at the age of 16 was chosen as Oakland’s 2018 youth poet laureate. She has been named an ambassador for literacy, arts and youth expression. Previously, she had served as the 2017 vice youth poet laureate. A poet with a passion for social justice, she hopes to use her title to address local issues. “I really want to focus on giving voice to the harrowing experience of displacement for youth in our communities, so I’m really excited to see what I can do,” she said.

Mottley is founder of Lift Every Voice, a youth-led art workshop series hosted in the Oakland Public Library’s “Teen Zone” in partnership with Beat Within Workshops. She created the program to connect incarcerated youth with their peers who are outside of the system.

“While I think that programs that put incarcerated and formerly incarcerated youth in mentor relationships with adults have great value, I also think that there is a certain kind of support that can only be provided by people in the same age range,” she wrote on the program’s GoFundMe page.

“Youth who have become entangled in the juvenile justice system are habitually underestimated, but I’m confident that if peer advocates utilize our access to resources, and devote our time and energy, we can amplify marginalized voices and help transform this perception.”

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