Health, Equity, and Excellence: iUrban Teen’s Art and History Initiative Honoring Black History

Our iUrban Teen Student Marketing Team interviewed our managers to get an inside look at what’s in store for the iUrban Teen Community this Black History Month. “Health, Equity, and Excellence: A Black History Month Series” is set to redefine how we celebrate and appreciate the profound contributions of the Black community. Join us on a captivating journey across Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver as we explore the intersections of art, history, and innovation.
This initiative aims to spotlight the untold stories, showcase exceptional talent, and inspire a deeper understanding of the Black experience. Get ready for an empowering and enlightening celebration that transcends boundaries and builds bridges to a brighter future!

Student : Lakeisha Hardy

Erin Hamilton
Manager Director

1. What motivated you to host this event?
iUrban Teen wants to acknowledge and celebrate Black community members in our region. Our film screening and our Artists & Creative Entrepreneurs events are for that. We also want to address community members’ interests and concerns. So, some of our BMH events provide information & resources to help strengthen communities whether that be in healthcare or other fields of interest.

2. What knowledge do you want people to gain from this event?
For our screening of the film, Buffalo Soldiers: Fighting on Two Fronts, we would like youth and adults to learn more about the Buffalo Soldiers and the history of how they fought for the United States military. We also want participants to know how the Buffalo Soldiers resisted and had to fight against systemic racism in the Pacific Northwest and across the United States.

3. In what other ways are you making an impact on people’s lives?
We hope that through iUrban Teen programs, we create a spark in youth and expose them to many amazing jobs and careers and show them through mentors that they can pursue whatever they want to do in their future. We want to encourage and support youth in their post high school career goals and dreams and to succeed in anything they want to achieve. We also try to provide youth and community members with information and resources that help strengthen their families, their economic and/or health outcomes.

Tyler Burt-McLaughlin
Program Manager

1. Why is this event important to you?
This event is important to me because, for one, I love all the films we’ll be showing, and I enjoy being able to experience these stories with others who share many similar opinions and may open my eyes to different perspectives. This event is important because it is giving a platform to Black role models who are not only smart and creative and use technology to change their environments for the better, but they are also literal superheroes and kings! I think even if it lives mostly in the imagination, seeing these figures who represent the best of what our culture could be is very powerful, especially since “potential” and “future” also share a space in the imagination. It’s also important because it highlights the importance of Afro-Futurism which is all about the intersection of Black culture with a future free of the oppressive challenges we face, often by using science and technology to inspire change & innovation while remaining rooted in our history & community.

2. What is the message you want the audience to take from this experience?
I hope the students and families attending can leave thinking more about how they can use technology to change their environments for the better. Although things may not scale as quickly as they would in a Marvel or animated movie, there are lots of real-life projects, concepts and solutions that can be explored and applied in the real world. I also hope they can take away a better understanding of what Afro-Futurism is and how important it can be, and probably has been, in inspiring them and passing generations to drive innovation without losing touch with where we came from.

3. What did you learn about Black History while preparing for this month’s event?
I learned the real, or at least re-evaluated, the definition and influence of Afro-Futurism. I’ve always understood that characters such as the Black Panther or Miles Morales were a product of Afro-Futurism because they were Black characters who use futuristic technology, but what I learned is that Afro-Futurism covers a much larger range of media and topics that I wouldn’t have thought to be included. While I understood that these characters are also rooted in their cultures, I didn’t connect the dots on the overarching themes that are at the heart of the cultural aesthetic which expands past the confines of a single genre. I learned that even the work and writings of social and political leaders like W.E.B. Du Bois, Martin Luther King Jr., and Malcom X can also fall into the definition of Afro-Futurism. Instead of just thinking about Black culture and technology, Afro-Futurism envisions a future where Black people are free from society’s long-standing oppression of Black and Brown people, often through an escape or reimagining of reality. When you think about it through this lens, it shows that those pushing for social change, like the historical figures I mentioned before, were real world instruments of Afro-Futurism because not only did they reimagine the world they lived in, but they also advocated to make that change a reality for the future. Redefining the term and understanding more about its historical importance and context was my biggest take away.

Student: Emily Nieto

Erin Hamilton
Managing Director OR – SW WA

1. Can you tell us more about the Buffalo Soldiers film that will be featured? What aspects of their story does it highlight, and how can it contribute to a deeper understanding of their historical significance?
Established by Congress, the 14th Amendment promised citizenship in exchange for enlistment, prompting many African American men. They were denied due to Jim Crow laws but still served. The film examines the profound and often-contradictory roles played by Buffalo Soldiers in U.S. history, and how they fought on two sets of front lines: military conflicts abroad and civil rights struggles at home. Here is a link where people can watch the Trailer for the film.

2. What fascinating insights can you share about the Buffalo Soldiers, and what valuable knowledge can participants expect to gain from this topic?
We’re excited that Dru Holley, the film’s director, will be in attendance to answer this question from a personal and professional perspective. Here is a link to a special  interview with Filmmaker Dru Holley.

3. Are there specific websites where enthusiasts can stay updated on upcoming events and continue their exploration of important historical topics?
For iUrban Teen youth and families interested in our STEM+Arts programs, they can follow us at our iUT website or at our iUT Eventbrite page: or