Jamestown, N.Y. – Shatriya Smith is a married Black queer handicapable spiritualist, born and raised in Springfield, Illinois.
The community advocate will perform original poetry and ebonic renditions of favorite poets at the Sunday, May 28, 10:30 a.m. service of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Jamestown. The work of Paul Laurence Dunbar, one of the first influential Black poets in American literature and internationally acclaimed for his dialectic verse, will be included in her presentation.
“As the poet laureate of Springfield, Illinois,” Smith says, “I stand with activists, allies and advocates of humanity, from BLM to women's rights, housing equality and racial equity, voting rights and LGBTQIA+. I speak for those who are too afraid to speak for themselves, and I bring my specific activities with poetic pose.”
Smith has worked with Action Illinois, Resistor Sisters, Illinois Indivisible, Pantsuit Nation, Planned Parenthood, Poor People's Campaign, Illinois Trans Radical Activist Network, Phoenix Center and many more. This past year she was tasked to recite Paul Lawrence Dunbar and Amanda Gorman to K – 6 graders and led a team to produce The Underground Railroad Poetry Program that hosted a monthly workshop, open mic and field trip.
Smith adds, “I am also a mother to the first openly transitioning young person in my family. I am blessed to be the bearer of that responsibility, to showcase how to break generational curses while teaching each family member outwardly about individual rights to dignity and respect.”
Shatriya Smith is executive director of Springfield’s Garvey Tubman Cultural Arts and Research Center. The Center provides services for low income families and young people ages 5-13 for music classes and to teach them to become young entrepreneurs. She is a member of the Abraham Lincoln Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Springfield.
The presentation relates primarily to the first two of the seven principles that Unitarian Universalist congregations affirm, promote and hold as strong values and moral guides: The inherent worth and dignity of every person, and justice, equity and compassion in human relations.
Pat Brininger is the service leader. A social time follows.
All are welcome. Participation can be either in person at 1255 Prendergast Avenue in Jamestown or online. To join virtually, use the link at UUJamestown.org/calendar.
The Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Jamestown is a progressive, liberal religious community serving the southern tier of Western New York and Warren County, Pa. The UUCJ’s mission is to support and celebrate each other, encourage spiritual and individual growth, and serve the wider community.