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Nativity Prep Boston Black History Month Speaker Series

March 07, 2024

Nativity Prep Boston

Nativity Preparatory School of Boston had a month-long celebration dedicated to honoring the lives and achievements of African Americans who have profoundly impacted society with a speaker series, a luncheon, and dinner. The Speaker Series featured esteemed alumni and community leaders who engaged with students throughout the month to share their experiences and insights into achieving their success. Lunch was graciously provided by the aunt of one of our current students and dinner was provided by our parent-council board who made an incredible array of dishes that the entire community enjoyed.

Speaker Series Features:
Paul Willis, Class of 2001, Hip-Hop Teaching Artist
Taji Johnson, Co-Founder, The Black Male Initiative at Boston College
Rafael Lugo, Multidisciplinary Afro-Latino Artist
Kenny Delino, Visual Artist
Paul Francisco, Senior Vice President- Chief Diversity Officer @ State Street

Paul Willis, graduated from Nativity Prep in 2001, Class of Baro and we were excited to welcome him back to Nativity as he kicked off our Black History Month Speaker Series with a powerful message and performance for the community. He is a creative professional with ties to youth-focused arts, education, and social justice nonprofits including starting up City Year Sacramento, leading programming for MLK365, providing leadership and executive coaching for the Nehemiah Emerging Leaders Program, and serving as an executive board member at Sol Collective, a nonprofit focused on art, culture, and activism. He is a talented Hip Hop teaching artist with experience as a diversity, equity, and inclusion consultant and brings a brand of community and corporate leadership to his hometown. Recently, Paul was the Managing Director of BAMS Fest, and he is looking forward to the next step of his 18-year professional career in the arts, education, leadership development, and social justice-driven organizations, which has provided him a unique lens to see the world and shape it.

Taji Johnson joined us over Zoom to speak with our students about his journey as a student-athlete and leader in his community. Taji is a football student-athlete at the University at Buffalo with a BA in Applied Psychology in Human Development from Boston College. He is a co-founder and former President of the Black Male Initiative, a student organization composed of serving as a voice for the unheard. While at Boston College, he participated in multiple campus and community activities such as Eagles for Equality, the Boston Public School Pen Pal Program, and the Boston College Black Male Initiative. "My core values of empathy and respect have given me an opportunity to help those in need. I have a passion for being a leader in the community, and I plan on using my platform to promote Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion as well as Mental Health throughout all aspects of life." -Taji Johnson

Rafael Arturo Lugo came in to speak with our students and share his experience as a multidisciplinary Afro-Latino artist and poet. He performed a few of his spoken word pieces for our students. He published his first book of poems and personal essays titled "I.S.A.A.C" in 2019. Shabazz also released his first poetry album in 2022 titled "A New Afro Latino Beat Poet". Arturo's artwork has been featured at Distillery Gallery, Humphreys Street Studio, JP Licks, School of Fashion Design (Boston), Market.Casablanc, Inner Sanctum, The Living Gallery (Brooklyn, NY), Elevated Thoughts (Lawrence, MA), Starbucks (Somerville, MA) and 1369 Coffeehouse (Central, Sq, Cambridge), CNCPT6 (Lowell, MA), and more!

To wrap up our Black History Month Speaker Series, Paul Francisco spoke with our students. He is currently the Chief Diversity Officer and Head of Workforce Development programs at State Street Corporation. However, Paul has had a long road of personal and professional achievements since he came to Boston from Honduras as a teenager. Some of his notable achievements include playing in the NFL, Latino 30 Under 30, Top 40 Under 40, Power 50, and 100 Most Influential Latinos in Massachusetts. Paul shared his foundation growing up that allowed him to embark on his journey and take advantage of the opportunities he was offered. He advised our students to maintain a constant state of curiosity, flexibility, and humility, assuring them that these qualities would also lead to their success. “If a kid from Honduras, who came here at 17 and didn’t speak English can do it, who are they to say that they cannot?”

-Paul Francisco