May 7, 2004 – The Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands, with endowment funding from Investment Security Services, has established a speakers bureau with the aim of motivating and empowering the territory's youth.
The first speaker to be presented is Hasan Davis, who will be in the Virgin Islands Monday through next Friday to make a series of appearances.
Davis, who in 1998 founded the nationally recognized company Empowerment Solutions, has "helped young people and adults find their voice, sense of personal power, self-respect and dignity," a CFVI release stated.
He has worked with government, corporate and not-for-profit entities in creating youth development programs that focus on leadership, team building, cultural competency and conflict/anger management. His audiences, he says, have ranged "from a room full of Wall Street bankers to an auditorium of maximum-security inmates."
He has developed a curriculum he calls Staging Success that draws on the arts of theater, creative writing and storytelling to address important social issues with youth participants.
One of the things Davis enjoys most is putting his theatrical training and talent to use in portraying historical African-American personages. "When I play one of these characters, people hear his story and his pain and relive his triumph," he says. "They can't disengage. It is incredibly powerful."
Davis is a successful motivational speaker, a lawyer, a performer and an arts advocate. But that's sure not where he seemed headed when he was a teen-ager.
Growing up in inner-city Atlanta, he was put in an alternative school after the seventh grade, and he was expelled in his senior year, "before anyone discovered that I suffered from dyslexia and Attention Deficit Disorder." He joined a street gang, and "when others looked at me, they saw a menace to society," he relates.
His mother persuaded him to go after his GED, and this led to a watershed experience: When his test scores came back, he found he was in the 90th percentile. He ended up studying communications and theater at Berea College in Kentucky, and after graduation he went on to law school at the University of Kentucky.
He was named a Rockefeller Foundation Next Generation Leadership Fellow in 2001, and he stayed with the program as a consultant the following year.
"At the end of the day, the ability to read is power," Davis says. "It is a chance to make sure you do not accept anything less than what you are going for. It is the first really big step."
According to an online LiteracyLink Forum posting, Davis often asks the young people he works with to write an 11-line poem "about who they are in relation to others, their fears, their dreams and three things they would like the world to say about them that would really be true."
In his own poem, two of the lines read:
"I do not believe that God only loves some, that might makes right or that the early bird always catches the worm.
"I do believe that enemies can be made friends, that tomorrow will be better and that all children can learn."
His schedule of appearances in the territory is as follows:
8:30 a.m. – Ruth E. Thomas Auditorium, Charlotte Amalie High School.
1 p.m. – Ivanna Eudora Kean High School auditorium.
8:30 p.m. – TV2's "Talk 2" program
A series of community meetings to be announced.
8 p.m. – WTJX-TV's "Face to Face" with Addie Ottley.
1:30 p.m. – Central High School.
The Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands was established in 1990 to serve the children and families of the Virgin Islands. It is the umbrella organization for more than 70 funds created by individuals and businesses to support educational, environmental, social and cultural initiatives in the territory.
Investment Security Services is a financial management company with offices in Grand Galleria in Charlotte Amalie.
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