The HC Crew believes in Healing and Compassion.

Like our name “HC,” Harambee (Black folks working together) Connections (Networking in a health way). We realize that folks that identify as Black, African, African American, bi-racial and African descendants experience generational trauma, mental health disorders, racial discrimination, cultural starvation, loss of identity, and more. Our goal is to help Black folks through your “hurt or harm” from past “conflicts or conversations” that you might have experienced. We try to offer a safe and nurturing environment with cultural activities from cultural identified caretakers to increase your quality of life.

Imani Leadership

The leadership board consists of seven intellectuals that identify as an African descendant. Each soul brings unique talents, strengths and Kuumba while using Afrocentric methods, restorative care and relational worldview to regenerate cultural identity and promote Black mental health. In these dark days of turmoil in the country, our Nia shines through our leadership. We are our ancestor's channel to bring Black joy to families and Sistahs in need.

Jambo Beautiful Spirits,  

I feel honored and blessed to greet you as the President of HC Black Music and Arts Association (HCBMAA). Everything in my career has led me to lead HCBMAA towards restorative Ubuntu healing. The work I put in towards the organization is nourishing. Although I'm not from Humboldt County, I feel the Black and Brown Community does a good job of holding me accountable on a spiritual, professional, and personal level. As a mother, jenga, professional and leader, I understand the importance of cultural consciousness, engagement and communication. It takes grace and faith to lead. It is my belief, that we all can pull together in the spirit of Harambee to promote Umoja and overcome cultural starvation. 

At HCBMAA, narrative stories from past and present generations are coming to life and unfolding from Sages. The language, music, and movement of our people are being utilized at the organization in the light of darkness to inspire Black joy. My goal for HCBMAA is to promote Black sovereignty rights and deliver culturally diverse programs by the village for the village, so those who identify as being Black, Indigenous, Mixed Race, or a Person of Color (BIMPOC) do not have to continue going on survival mode. The HC Harambee Family understands that to be sustainable in Humboldt County, we must be intentional, which is why we hold restorative circles to do self-healing. In the words of Dr. Dorothy Height, "We have to improve life, not just for those who have the most skills and those who know how to manipulate the system, but also for those who often have so much to give but never get the opportunity."  If ever the Black Community needs agents of change, it is now.
Ubuntu Sisi ni Sawa,
Valetta Molosky

Lorenza Simmons

Youth Director

Lorenza is a music educator and performer in Humboldt County. She has been a resident on and off for 20 years in Humboldt since age 1, in 1986. Lorenza loves being in nature. She also loves dancing and listening to different genres of music. As a person with mixed Black and Italian heritage and a music educator, Lorenza has seen the need for more support, outreach, and cultural identity for our BIPOC community, especially for youth and teens of color in Humboldt. When the opportunity and honor presented itself for Lorenza to become Youth Director at HCBMAA in 2020, Lorenza saw this as a way forward towards helping our community, further rippling out to our greater world.

Lorenza believes in the power of the arts and strong cultural identity as a way to help heal the wounds of our past, offer support through present challenges, and build a more positive, bright, and liberated future

Andrea “Drea” Jones

Community Liaison

Greetings!

My name is Andrea Jones, and I am the HC Black Music and Arts Association Community Liaison. My role at HCBMAA is to promote Black literacy by bringing awareness to Humboldt, applying for Literacy grants, and facilitating cultural classes. I have over 10 years of experience working with Youth. In 2020, I  partnered with Fuente Nueva Charter School doing weekly readings and also face-to-face reading sessions on the Arcata Plaza at the Farmers Market to enhance the cultural importance of identity and support. Now, I work with BIPOC organizations in Humboldt to promote change, social justice and safe spaces for families and elders. 

I choose to be a part of this organization because of the cultural starvation I’ve experienced growing up in Wisconsin. This organization allows people of color to come together in a safe environment and trust those to support, educate, and voice the concerns of the Black and Brown community.

Florence Parks

Spiritual Advisor

Florence Parks earned a electronic communications degree from San Francisco State and has provided training and technical assistance to the field of youth mentoring, and related youth services fields, since 2002. 

She began her work as practitioner in the field of mentoring. Developing several programs through behavioral health division of VCUSD. Florence emphasis is in best practice program design, working with at promise and vulnerable populations. She is also focused on improving match support the heart of mentoring success. She was key in the development and sustainability of more than 24 mentoring programs in the Bay Area and Northern California. She has a perspective grounded in positive youth development and growth mindset. 

Florence continues to invest in the field of mentoring, as part of the Leadership Team of the California Mentor Partnership, leading the efforts for CMP External Affairs as well as serving on the Research committee. 

In her free time she enjoys spending time with her daughters and husband, hiking and being outdoors. A hiking enthusiast and former summer camp Director she invests in making camp a possibility for youth from all backgrounds as well as lifeguarding for summer camps.

Wilda Thompson

Secretary

My name is Wilda Thompson. I am the secretary of HCBMAA. I retired from General Mills/Pillsbury. I work part-time for California Mentor helping individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities who live in private family homes. I graduated from Interlochen Arts Academy and attended Monmouth College in Monmouth, Illinois, majoring in Music. I currently sing with a Gospel group and also play Bass. I was drawn to being involved with HCBMAA because growing up as a child, I was involved in a lot of classes and groups, where I would be the only child of Color and would sometimes be uncomfortable and felt alone. HCBMAA provides a safe space for children of Color, and I am happy to be a part of this organization

Shawn Nealy-Oparah, E.D.

Jenga Partner

Shawn Nealy-Oparah, Ed.D. Shawn Nealy-Oparah, E.D., is an innovative, trauma-responsive educator with 20 years of experience. She works as a Managing Improvement Partner at Partners in School Innovation. At Partners, she uses a somatic, trauma-informed, and equity lens to support systemic change within her organization regarding anti-racist practices. In addition, she supports schools in developing anti-racist practices that will improve leadership and teaching practices, student achievement, build leader and teacher capacity, and support in creating and sustaining strong school structures. Shawn is also an adjunct professor in the School of Education at the University of San Francisco, where she teaches a graduate course on trauma-informed leadership. Somatic abolitionism is at the center of her work. Within this practice is a clear focus on trauma-responsive schools and healing institutional, historical, and intergenerational trauma.

Nikki Valencia

Afrocentric Art educator

I started with HCBMAA as an Ubuntu Cultural Bearer since July 2020 teaching Afrocentric art to youth ages 4.5 to 16 years old at the Harambee Youth Program.

As an Afrocentric artist, I recognize the beauty of blackness, including the beauty of a black woman and her hair, no matter the color. I believe in showcasing Black beauty to the world. During my cultural art sessions, I discuss how I avoid blue eyes and blonde hair in my works. I never shy away from encouraging students to draw our big, beautiful lips and noses.

HCBMAA has given me the opportunity to grow my art and speak my mind. I had my art pieces showcased on posters, at Arts on the Plaza, local events, and in a poetry book by Dylan Collins called, "In Our Hearts Slowly Built a Thunder." I also started platforms for social justice conversations.

Through my work and diverse culture, I continually am a cultural caretaker, shifting the Eurocentric beauty to Afrocentric features underrepresented. Black is beautiful. Everyone who crosses my painting path won’t be able to deny it!!

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