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Kai Cameron and April Brown
Kai Cameron and April Brown

This is Us

The current staff of LHCPR continuously build on the legacy of Langston Hughes. Co-directors April Brown and Kai Cameron both attended Howard University and both had a long career in education.

 

In 2021-2022, the LHCPR staff will embark on an organizational planning process to build sustainability and continuity of this important project in perpetuity.

Quote from Langston Hughes

Life is a big sea full of many fish. I let down my nets and pull.…I'm still pulling.

April Brown

Co-Director

April Brown

April Brown is an educator, ordained minister, poet, singer and actor living in Providence, RI.  She has performed in the United States, Japan, and Israel.  Ms. Brown holds a B.A. from The American University in Washington, DC and an Ed.M. from the University of Rhode Island. Her passion for arts and culture education manifested itself with experience in museum work with the Smithsonian Folklife and Cultural Heritage and the National Museum of American History she worked on the as an artist programmer for the 2004 and 2008 Folklife Festival, the National World War II Reunion on the Mall and the Celebration of Baseball.  Locally she has worked with Rhode Island Black Storytellers and the National Association of Black Storytellers as the African marketplace director. Recently, she served as the Local Program Director for Turnaround Arts: Providence. She has worked in educational systems with a focus on cultural engagement; professional development; and local community activism.  She has held several community at large leadership positions for arts organizations, as a seasoned professional. She currently serves as a board member of Community Music Works and is on the Special Committee for Commemorative Works for the City of Providence.

Over the course of her career, she has used her arts expertise in a variety of applications including pre-K, secondary, post-secondary arts training, working effectively with administrations serving low income students. Her specialties include curriculum and professional development, community engagement, staff management, and team oversight/coaching.

 

For April, arts practice is the way we speak life into humanity and we need to teach this to our youth.    

S. Kai Cameron

Co-Director

Kai Cameron

Upon retirement from the Providence Public School District as an Administrator for 22 years, S. Kai Cameron has served as Co-Director for the Langston Hughes Community Poetry Reading Committee (LHCPR), which in 2019 was the recipient of the distinguished RISCA Expansion Arts program. Notably, prior to LHCPR, Kai has been an advocate for Rhode Island’s high-risk youth and families as a classroom teacher, program developer, project manager and community engagement activist primarily in Providence. Her ‘body of work’ started with the well-known community-based organizations of the Opportunities Industrialization Center of RI (OIC), Providence Housing Authority and Urban League of RI, where she functioned as an Education Specialist/Supervisor to develop youth and families to combat lack of education, low self-esteem, school suspension and joblessness. In the late 1990’s, as Project Director, Kai implemented a nationally funded city-wide five-year substance-abuse prevention program for youth and adults. In 2000, she served as the Interim Director of Student Relations for the Providence School Department and until her retirement led a number of projects designed to enhance education and empower families.  

 

Kai has received a number of local, state and national awards including the US Housing and Development (HUD) Minority Fellowship, a ‘Join Together’ Fellowship sponsored by Boston University School of Public Health/Robert Woods Johnson Foundation, and the Student of the Year Award from the RI Chapter of the American Planning Association. Additionally, she has participated as a community volunteer and/or board member in numerous associations, such as Violet’s Village, Neighbors 4 Revitalization, and the RI Coalition of Black Women. 


Currently, she is in the process of developing a fashion design business, called “Kai’s Kloset”.  Deliberately created as a social enterprise, her business will provide eco-friendly clothing that is one-of-a-kind and fashionable.

ya Tande

Committee Member

Ph.D. (Philosophy, Art Theory and Aesthetics) Institute for Doctoral Studies in the Visual Arts M.F.A. (New Media Arts and Performance) Long Island University
Certificate, Martha Graham Technique, Martha Graham Center for Contemporary Dance B.F.A (Theatre Arts/Dance) Howard University


Prior to joining the Temple faculty, yonTande served as Adjunct faculty at Long Island University Dance Department, Program Director of Southside Cultural Center of Rhode Island, and Dance Program Manager at AS220. He has taught nationally and internationally at various schools and colleges namely The Ailey School, the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance, LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, Deeply Rooted Dance Theatre, Harlem School of the Arts, Dance Institute of Washington, and Centro Nacional de Danza Contemporánea (MX), and others.


He is an artist/culture worker and BLACK SEED Native committed to #cultureascatalyst. His artistic career has been varied centering around nurturing and cultivating individual and communal spirit through performance, education and curation/community engagement. He has worked with such luminaries in the field of dance and performance as the Martha Graham Dance Company, Kankouran West African Dance Company, Rod Rodgers, Reggie Wilson/Fist and Heel Performance Group, Martha Clarke, Ralph Lemon, and many others.


His works have been presented through Rhode Island College, Kumble Theater, La Mama, Grace Exhibition Space, Panoply Performance Laboratory, Brooklyn International Performance Art Festival and in the streets of NYC, Chicago and Detroit. His grants and commissions for the creation and exhibition of his works are numerous: Providence Art, Culture and Tourism, New York State Council for the Arts, Puffin Foundation Grant, and others. He has founded and directed various performance collectives, was a Movement Research Artist in Residence (2013-15), and presently founding co-director of Denizen Arts a creative collaborative performance project informed by cultural and art-making heritages that honor African diaspora, queer and other global identities founded in 2016 with theatre/movement artist Jude Sandy.


His research centers on the Africanist aesthetic and perspective in contemporary dance and performance with special attention to African spirituality as a philosophy of embodiment.

Thangarani "Rani" McNeil

Committee Member

Rani's first memory of Langston Hughes is reciting Dreams with Mrs. Taylor's fourth grade class for their Black History Month Assembly. She fell in love with his poems and Dreams in particular has brought her through some tough times in life. She was so excited to learn about the Community Poetry Reading through a friend and couldn't wait to attend. She signed up to read at the end of that reading and asked how she could be involved two years later. She has loved being a part of the team making the event run smoothly and looks forward to staying an active committee member for many years to come.

Marcella Astudillo

Committee Member

Providence School Department Social Studies Teacher Leader, RWMS

 

Graduated from The University of Rhode Island with a Ph.D in Education.  Dissertation title, "Latino Academic Resilience: Stories of High Achieving Middle School ELLs and the Teachers and Families that Helped them Succeed." (published in 2015)

 

A strong advocate for the integration of the arts in school and culturally responsive teaching.

 

Organizer of  Spring Arts Festival Titled:  Pride and Possibilities: A Langston Hughes Poetry and Visual Arts Festival at Roger Williams Middle School.

Shawn Christian

Committee Member

Shawn Anthony Christian, PhD lectures and publishes on twentieth-century, African American literary and print culture, especially during the Harlem Renaissance.

 

A public humanities advocate, Shawn also served on the board of directors for the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities.

Diane Minasian

Committee Member

Diane E. Minasian, M.D. is a physician at East Bay Community Action Program and Clinical Assistant Professor of Family Medicine at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University. Working with the Langston Hughes Community Poetry Reading  since 2017, she believes that engagement in the arts contributes to the health and wellness of communities.

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