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On Friday evening, hundreds of proud parents and community residents packed Second Baptist Church in Richmond Heights to see the SBC Community Development Corporation Youth Zone’s community production of the celebrated South African musical “Sarafina!”

More than 100 students from the community danced and sang their hearts out, reenacting the life of South African youth protesting racial inequality, police brutality and apartheid during the 1970s Soweto Uprising. “Sarafina!” not only educated the students about apartheid in South Africa and the residents’ struggle towards freedom, but also provided a platform for them to discuss the comparison of current events affecting the Black community today, such as the Black Lives Matter campaign. The student participants in the program executed the entire “Sarafina!” musical. The music was re-recorded and produced by the students themselves, as were the props for the play.

Following the play, guests were able to view art work curated by the students and professional artists Cendino Teme, Nate Dee, and Robert McKnight, a Richmond Heights native.

“The students’ performances were awesome tonight and the sheer amount of talent on that stage was incredible,” said McKnight. “I’m so thankful that I was invited to host workshops teaching the students how to go about being an artist. This has been a distinct honor for me because it’s always great to travel and experience other places as an artist, but it’s something truly special about being home.”

Thanks to the support of the Miami-Dade County and the Cultural Affairs Council, SBC CDC Youth Zone was able to successfully execute a production on such a large scale for the first time. SBC CDC’s ultimate goal is to build the Richmond Heights Family Life Center where it will conduct even larger events for the community.

The organization was able to offer free visual and performing arts classes to two additional community programs for nine weeks. In collaboration with Richmond Park & Youth Impact located at Martin Memorial AME Church, SBC CDC Youth Zone offered their participants experience in dance, music, drama, and fine arts, in addition to workshops with the professional artists and exposure to jazz history and music. Throughout these workshops, the professional artists encouraged students to express their personal feelings by capturing their emotions through photography and artwork, and taught them invaluable skills such as how to curate their works of art for public viewing.

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