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"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

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'Boys of Baraka' update

From Matt Stanberry, Baltimore, MD:

On March 3, 2006, Roger Ebert wrote a review of "The Boys of Baraka" in which he stated, "Here is a movie that makes you want to do something. Cry, or write a check, or howl with rage." I am writing to let you know that now there IS something that people can do to help improve the situation highlighted in the film.

After the film's release, there was an outpouring of national concern over the state of inner city education for African American males. The concerns reached the film directors, former Baraka School teachers, alumni of the school, and individuals involved in educational reform. As the level of discourse rose, two important things happened. First, the alumni of theBaraka School began sharing their experiences with people throughout Baltimore. These high school sophomores and juniors have attended over 20 question and answer sessions following screenings of the documentary for audiences ranging from 25 to over 1,000 people. They have fielded questions from professors, politicians, CEOs, teachers, parents and third grade students alike. Outside of these public speaking events, Baraka Alumni have initiated mentoring projects for younger children, counseled public school teachers on effective classroom techniques, and joined philanthropic organizations. They are an incredible group of young people.

Second, a number of Baltimore organizations and individuals, including Baraka School alumni and parents, Maryland Mentoring Partnership, Urban Leadership Institute, Associated Black Charities, and students from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, partnered to form the Baraka Youth Empowerment Fund. The goal of the fund is to ensure that Baraka School alumni and future generations of Baltimore young people directly benefit from the philanthropic momentum generated by "The Boys of Baraka" film. The fund was established in April 2006 and is currently initiating a fundraising campaign.

Baraka Youth Empowerment Fund
c/o Associated Black Charities
1114 Cathedral Street
Baltimore, MD 21201

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