To Whom It May Concern:
I met Shani Byard-Ngunjiri almost a decade ago. We were initially brought together through our works in the creative arts and our mutual concern for social justice. I have worked with Shani’s organization, UrbanRising Entertainment as an independent artist and was featured on the television show, Tha Zone TV; which she co-executive produced and marketed. Those experiences showed me that in the midst of buying and selling images in the entertainment industry, there are those who welcome and advocate for positive, culturally conscious and empowering images of African American artists.
As the co-event producer of the Annual Los Angeles Malcolm X Arts, Culture & Education Festival, Shani conscientiously worked each year to ensure the careful presentation of what soon thereafter became known as the largest cultural tribute to Malcolm X in the nation. As the Literary Arts Village coordinator, I was able to work closely with Shani and was witness to her commitment, organization, and well crafted ideas and practices designed to promote healing and building from within the community.
In 2003, when I joined the efforts of Artists for Justice and Liberation (an organization which Shani co-founded) to save the only remaining African American cultural area in the city, I watched her work tirelessly to save Leimert Park by increasing awareness, rallying the community and seeking answers (and action) from elected officials, all while continuing to support the arts and independent artists. In fact, it was Shani who introduced me to the work I now continue with Theatre of Hearts/Youth First as an Artist-In-Residence/Youth Mentor.
Over the years, I have found Shani to be unshakable in her mission to heal and build the African American community. The Digital Elder project is both relevant and much needed. Shani is primed to make a major change in the African American community by working to ensure that those who are already marginalized will not be further left behind as society moves into a more technological existence. She is working to ensure that as we move forward, using her intergenerational, African-centered approach, we will create leaders and rebuild our communities. I wholeheartedly support her efforts.
I am honored to recommend Shani Byard-Ngunjiri and The Digital Elder Project.