Coming Together

How does AAYLC show black excellence?

Cecilia Greene, Multimedia editor

For school districts across Oregon, members of the African American Youth Leadership Committee have a conference for students that identify as African American to establish the true meaning of black excellence. Statistics from the Oregon Department of Education have stated that at least 1% of African American students attend West Albany as of 2021 to today. With a small percentage of diversity in such a big district, some parents have found the conferences and program helpful.

     “AAYLC was started by Darlene Andrus as a way to bring together black youth and create a sense of pride and community. My oldest child attended as a 6th grader back in 2010. I think it would be a great idea to duplicate everywhere,” staff member Jackie Stewart said.

   Q&A with senior, Aliyaah Haji-Mohamed

Senior Aaliyah Haji-Mohamed has been attending the AAYLC conferences since middle school, continuing to attend through COVID. She expressed that attending the conferences made her feel more comfortable with herself since there is a lack of diversity in Albany and West Albany itself.

     Prior to COVID, she described a normal day for a conference would include a college field trip with kids from the GAPS district. Students from all over would be divided into groups depending on grades and were given a tour of the college. Activities that took place with each group discussed subjects relating to culture, black girl/boy magic, and everyone’s experience regarding education. Not only do discussions include topics on education, but organizers make sure to include the importance of mental health as well as resources for any specific needs. Conferences are designed to be a safe space for anyone attending no matter the background students are from or their experiences.

What’s your definition of black excellence?

“Just people of color in our school just being the best that they can be in the most positive and helpful way. Whether it’s showing culture or coming together to express positivity among others”


  In what ways did the college field trip benefit students?

 “Whether it’s learning about our education or where other people come from, having the opportunity to get together and a day dedicated to our history, culture, and community helps students to love themselves.”


How are conferences being held now?

“Because of covid you actually don’t get to go in person and you have to do it online. It’s really hard not to physically be working with people one on one and it blocks out the possibility of making connections with people. I’m still happy I’m able to go since it’s my last year”


Why do you think the program was created?

It’s a dangerous world out here especially for people of color and I think the AAYLC tries their best to teach young African American students about self love and about education,” Haji-Mohamed said. 

This year will be the second time the AAYLC conference will be taking place online and only time will tell when events for the program will get back to the way it was.

speaker from AAYLC conference, taken by: Cecilia Greene