Programs & Services
It is widely known that the people of the African Diaspora have retained their cultural heritage through the arts and proudly express themselves through dance, song, story and food. Recognizing the value of celebrating their cultural heritage, the vision of Staten Island’s Black Cultural Arts and Heritage Festival and Parade (SI Black Heritage Festival) is to highlight and promote this rich tradition to local Staten Islanders and visitors to the Island.
Island Voice, Inc. – the parent organization of the Staten Island’s Black Cultural Arts and Heritage Festival and Parade recognizes the power of arts and culture to foster a sense of identity and community. The organization created the SI Black Parade, to inspire creative and meaningful experiences, connect diverse communities, support local economies, and increase awareness of varying cultural aspects within the African-American, African and Caribbean communities of the Island while attracting new visitors to the Island as a vibrant part of Staten Island’s cultural tourism.
The three-day festival presents multiple occasions to foster unity and pride, introduce a medley of arts and culture, promote trade and industry through an outdoor vendor market, opportunity to experience a sports competition and participate in economic empowerment and networking sessions. The festivities culminates in a parade on the North Shore of Staten Island, an area with close proximity to the waterfront communities of the Island which are currently undergoing revitalization – and the Staten Island Ferry which facilitates easy access from Manhattan with views of the Statue of Liberty, the Brooklyn and Verrazano Bridges and Staten Island Railway systems which offers transportation across Staten Island to the North Shore. The SI Black Heritage festivities close with a clergy breakfast.
The Know Your History Youth Unity Summit is in celebration of Black History Month. This is a free event open to the public. The summit usually includes panel discussion involving youth and some of adults followed with performances by youth choirs, dancers, steppers, poets, wrappers and local bands.
The goal of the summit is to reinforce the youths with the importance of their history, the relevance of the African-American experience and to educate them about their connection to each other. This initiative is also expected to communicate to the young people that we understand they are crying out for help and we are making available a platform so that Staten Island’s civic, religious, business, community and governmental leaders can listen to them.
Under our Youth Advocacy and Training initiative, Island Voice engages in activities to encourage job training and education to benefit the youths of the island. The organization is always looking for joint ventures and collaborations to facilitate alternative training skills and referrals job training opportunities. Please note again, with Staten Island a waterfront community, Island Voice will be aggressively seeking to facilitate program’s to teach the Youth of the Island alternative skills such as boat building, sailing, furniture repair and environmental initiatives.
While the Parade was a worthy achievement, the leadership of Island Voice is especially pleased about the organization’s success in bringing intellectual resources in the form of economic empowerment lectures to the African, African-American and Caribbean communities of Staten Island, in connection with the Parade and post-parade. Island Voice’s accomplishments in offering useful resources to its constituency have materialized with great success and the people are hungry for more information and assistance.
In 2007 Island Voice engaged and solicited the participation of civic and private and governmental organizations and individuals such as – The Downtown Council of Staten Island, Staten Island Economic Development Corporation, Staten Island YMCA Counseling Service Branch’s Vanderbilt Avenue Center, Financial Destinations, Inc. of Harlem, Staten Island attorney Michael David, Tomas D. Morales, President of College of Staten Island, Atlantis Health Care Services and the New York City’s Department of Small Business Services and the Workforce One Career Center, Council for the Arts and Humanities of Staten Island – all to help provide relevant and useful information on existing resources that can serve to benefit its constituents.