Special thanks to the Fayette/Lexington NAACP chapter, who supported the prizes for this year’s Young Black Voices Contest

Writing Contest Winners

First Place: Kiitan Adedeji
Lafayette High School

Author Statement

Inspired by the Black Panther Party Ten Point Platform, the poem takes the first three rules and applies them to my current understanding as a young black woman living through the inequalities of America now. It was a part of a bigger piece that juxtaposed the actions/ideologies of the Black Panther Party to the inequalities faced by many black people today. I sought to explore, black freedom, black employment, and black operations through the future Black people today could strive for. It was written for all the people questioning where Black people could proceed: from our sufferings in the past to the limitations we feel today.

Author's Biography
Kiitan Adedeji is Lexington's 2023 youth poet laureate. She is currently a sophomore at Lafayette Highschool where she ​is a part of the SCAPA and Pre-Engineering programs at her school. Kiitan enjoys reading, learning French, and staring at the fish in her aquarium and when she's not practicing her many hobbies, you can find her raving about matcha tea and thinking about something new to start writing.

Second Place: Madelyn Blakey
Lafayette High School

Author Statement

I wrote a free-verse poem and the audience I am writing to is anyone who wants to appreciate our black youth. This poem could be for a middle schooler to an adult. I decided to write this poem because I feel like gifted black kids aren’t recognized enough for their achievements and we need to support and celebrate each other. As a biracial kid who has been in gifted and accelerated courses since elementary school, I felt like this prompt spoke to me. I think that my poem reflects all of these ideas well.

Author's Biography
I am Madelyn Blakey, a junior at Lafayette High School. I am on the Lafayette varsity volleyball and varsity track team. I am also captain of my track team. Along with the Student Council, Science National Honor Society, Black Student Union, National Honor Society, and Multicultural Association. Outside school and my clubs, I play club volleyball, read, work out, or listen to music. I also love to travel and eat great food at every new destination.

Third Place: Alicia Ann Marie Robinson
Bryan Station High School

Author Statement

My name is Alicia Robinson and I am a senior at Bryan Station High School in Lexington, Kentucky. I am Student Body President, a part of Dual Language Immersion, Black Student Union, President of Future Business Leaders of America, and various other clubs and extracurricular activities including my active community service in my church Total Grace. Post graduation I will be attending Clark Atlanta University in Georgia to study business and pre law, from there I plan to go to law school to be a civil defense attorney and one day open a nonprofit for the community that provides various resources such as affordable and competent legal aid, low income housing, child care, and more. Apart from business I have a passion for creative writing and cooking and pray to be able to expand on my hobbies within my career. To me success is a product of faithfulness, hard work, and patience which are qualities I strive to maintain.

Author's Biography
This poem/spoken word expresses the reality and meaning of being young, gifted, and black. Through my writing I displayed the beauties of this phrase, the struggles and expectations of this phrase, and what it truly means when used to define who we African Americans are as a people and individuals. There is no specific target audience, the contents of this poem gives opinionated insight to not just black Americans but also shows to all people the reality of being black in America and constantly living up or down to being young, gifted, and black. I chose to write this in the form of poetry because there is beauty in this type of literature and it entices people to listen and analyze the words said between the lines and form their own artistic opinions on the subject, hopefully resulting in awareness on the current struggle and beauty of black americans that seems to be hidden deeper and deeper as history continues.

Visual Art Contest Winners

First Place: Ariana McPherson
Frederick Douglass High School

Artist Statement

The prompt I was given for this project was to be "young, black and gifted", and I happen to be all of those. So I thought that I might paint you one of my stories instead of making up one about someone else. Throughout my life I have always been questioned about my academic achievements, either the work I completed was too hard for someone like me or I finished too quickly so I must be cheating. Or doing something so simple as listening to music as I am doing my work must mean that I am off task and have a bad work ethic. And those same teachers who accused me of such misconduct were quickly proven wrong when I showed them just how intellectually competent I could be. In my painting it is meant to show that my achievements were not just for my own development, but to prove to those that doubted me that I may be black and I may be young, but I am going to succeed.

Artist's Biography
My name is Ariana McPherson, I am 17 years old and a senior. I currently live with my mother and father and have two younger siblings. I have always been drawn to art and the ability to create whatever I wanted to put onto paper. At first my drawings were poor and unintelligible but eventually as I continued to grow over the years, so did my drawing ability. One of the people who helped me to hone my skills in art was my mother, she was my most blunt critic and would always tell me the truth about my drawings no matter how negative it may have been, but though it was not always enjoyable, it helped me get better. As my skills began to increase I noticed that people tended to be interested in my art and therefore, me. So as a result art was a gateway that I had to establish friendships and good relations with my teachers.

Second Place: Aniya Fayth Harvey
Lafayette High School

Artist Statement

The piece I made is a painting with a young girl and flowers with a poem I wrote. The girl has a hairstyle of two puffs with hairballs to show her youthfulness. The poem is a narrative of how I view myself and my black peers. The first two stanzas, tell what my parents and others have told me a thousand times. As the poem goes on I write about what I tell myself and see in today's black youth, hope, and dreams. These dreams don't blind me though, instead, I use the struggles that I and others went through and continue to go through as motivation to make something of myself. This piece isn't just for young black girls, it's for anyone who has a struggle story and wants to turn their woes into a survival story that they tell after they accomplish their dreams. This poem is aimed towards African-Americans but I believe that any race can take something away from this, and I hope that that something is motivation to do great things with their life and potential. This world is full of opportunities, it's just our job to take hold of those opportunities. This mindset is what inspired me to make this piece and enter this competition and it is what continues to inspire me to live and try every day.

Artist's Biography
My name is Aniya Harvey and I am 14 years old. I was born in Lexington, Kentucky on

March 3rd, 2009. When I was young, my family moved to Los Angeles, California in which we stayed for five years. There, I developed my love for music and nature. When I was in the first grade, we moved back to Lexington. I now go to Lafayette High School and go to the tech school Locust Trace, which is a school for agriculture. When I grow up I want to be a zoologist, but I always had a love for the arts which is why I’m doing this project.

For me, the arts have always played a role in my life. Whether it was the music we listened to and the old school dances my momma would teach me and my sisters, or the sand sculptures and paintings I would see when walking the Boardwalk in Los Angeles. My love for the literary arts started when I was young too. My momma would always read to us and make sure we had books. When we moved to Lexington, she used to take us to the Carnegie Center and me and my sisters would pick out our own books. She even signed us up for writing classes there. I remember one day, Momma came home with a book of poem prompts for us, that was the day I grew to love poetry. My older sister was especially good at writing and she inspires me a lot when I am writing.

I am doing this project as a way to further challenge myself in the arts. This will challenge my creativity and help me find a way to express myself through art better. I hope that those who see this piece will somehow be inspired to express themselves too, through art or some other way. While doing this project I learned a lot about myself and I learned different techniques of doing things. I thank my mother for showing me this contest and I thank you all for providing this opportunity.

Third Place: Sikujua Amangu
Bryan Station High School

Artist Statement

My name is Sikujua Amangu, and this is my digital artwork, Art Earth Girl. I am originally from the Congo but we had to move away from my homeland when I was very young. As a result, I need to learn how to speak my language. However, I connect with my people through art. And art is also a way that I use to comfort myself when times are hard.

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