Those uplifted by past generations are inspiring future generations!
MY PLACE CAFE
Pasadena teacher, LaTanya Smith always wanted to be a business owner. In January 2020 her dream came true and she bought My Place Café, only to be closed months later due to the pandemic. But, she never gave up. Slowly, things began to reopen, and patrons were able to come and enjoy her café, her charm, and the local art bestowed upon the walls and the patio where spoken word performers and musicians are welcomed weekly.
Paying homage to black history and her father’s heritage, her coffee beans are sourced from Sweet Unity Farms – coffee bean farms in Tanzania and Ethiopia run by Jackie Robinson’s son, David Robinson, and his family.
When you visit My Place Café, LaTanya will be there to greet you with a smile and open arms because her goal is that “my place becomes your place.” And whatever you do, don’t miss out on her sweet potato cake…it’s simply delicious.
My Place Café
2057 N Los Robles Ave.
Pasadena, CA 91104
Rancho Cucamonga literature teacher, Romaine Washington, inspires her classrooms with spoken word poetry. She brings in guest poets to bring life to poetry, and because of that, her classrooms are filled with students finding joy in literature and writing poetry themselves.
As for her own poetic craft, Romaine Washington (she/her) is the author of the poetry collection, Purgatory Has an Address, (Bamboo Dart Press, 2021) nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and Sirens in Her Belly, (Jamii, 2015). Washington’s poetry has also been nominated for Best of the Net and has appeared in local and national publications including California English Journal, Becoming a Teacher, The Black Scholar, New Directions:Howard University, Lullwater Review:Emory University, Gathering:A Women Who Submit Anthology, Hip Mama and The Verdict Is In.
CORY “BESSKEPP” COFER
As a spoken word poet, Cory “Besskepp” Cofer has traveled the country as a member of the Los Angeles National Slam Team (2000, 2001), was featured on HBO’s Def Poetry and has shared the stage with such artist as Mos Def, Saul Williams, Slum Village, Mystic, Ursella Rucker, The Visionaries Poet/activist Jerry Quickley, and can be found performing to this day at various open mic nights including A Mic & Dim Lights – a weekly poetry reading in Pomona founded by Cofer, which is the 2nd largest and one of the longest-running weekly readings in California.
As a teacher, he’s been twice awarded Teacher of the Year. His poetry addresses pertinent issues as equal rights, single-parent families, the importance of education, and how hip-hop culture influences our society.
ERIC DEVAUGHNN “T.R.U.E.”
As a teacher and poet, Eric DeVaughnn known as “T.R.U.E.” onstage, offers poetry as a healing mechanism. For him, the ability to take bad situations and create poetry out of it not only offers him a way of purging his frustration, but also gives others the chance to feel heard and understood, sparking healing conversation. DeVaughnn draws inspiration from poet, Patricia Smith, an American poet, spoken-word performer, playwright, author, writing teacher, and former journalist. She has been called “a testament to the power of words to change lives.”