Culver City High School’s First ‘Queen Speech’ was celebrated, commemorated, and delivered on Feb. 27, 2020 at the CCHS Library. It was an event that expanded far beyond the room, bringing in keynote speakers Candance Simmons, owner of “All that and More” boutique and Tensie Taylor, of the USC Alumni Association, and offering the podium to young women of color from the whole school district.
Created by CCUSD Superintendent Leslie Lockhart, the idea was simply to get young women to celebrate empowerment and the strength of the royal metaphor. “You are all queens,” said Lockhart, “and when things get challenging – and they will get challenging – know that you have all these other queens with you to support you and cheer you on.”
Sponsored by the CCHS Black Students Union, their President Leah Howard presided over the evening, introducing Lockhart, School Board President Summer McBride, and CCHS Principal Dr. Lisa Cooper.
Lockhart noted that “Oral traditions make it possible for memories, traditions, family history, learned wisdom to be passed down from one generation to another. These are practices that span hundreds of years and across many cultures.”
Both Simmons and Taylor got the audience to stand in their shoes, telling very candid and personable tales of the struggles they triumphed over to reach their current status of success.
Each student that took the microphone offered insights, affirmations and deep affection for the identity of being a woman of color.
London Lockhart of El Marino, Violet Hookfin of El Rincon, Nailah King of La Ballona, Natalia Vivero of CCMS, and Nahgi Cooper of CCHS all held court with wisdom and charm. And almost everyone managed to get in a good word for Beyonce, role model extraordinare.
After the speeches, a session of ‘table talk’ offered a moment with moms, aunts, and friends, giving everyone a chance to relate and reflect on speechmaking, queenliness, and community support.
The event was sponsored by Kim Etheridge of Mixed Chicks, a CCHS graduate and generous alum.
Photo – Leah Howard at the podium