In 2011, Founder Clarence Nero was devastated when his youngest brother Sean Simmon was brutally murdered in New Orleans as he was arriving home from a long night of work in the French Quarters. His murder would infuse Professor Nero with a need to make a difference in his community by providing the youth with an outlet to express their experiences through storytelling and learn ways to become empowered, resilient and inspired as they face the challenges of high school and young adulthood in society. In a city where many young people live below the poverty level and end up dead or in jail before reaching puberty, Professor Nero was committed to uplifting his black community and understood the importance of exposing the youth to positive experiences through literary, visual, performing and culinary arts. A critically acclaimed author and professor with an urge to turn his pain into passion and a rolodex of many accomplished friends, he invited some of his fellow writers, actors, singers, teachers, motivational speakers and poets to New Orleans to assist him with his mission and Bayou Soul Youth Literary Conference was born the same year his brother was murdered.
The spirit and intentions of Bayou Soul Youth Literary Conference is to educate, entertain, empower and inspire the youth by bringing an innovative and unique experience through the arts. The free youth conference is designed with tools that equip students with the knowledge to write and use their voice as a powerful weapon to fight against injustices, poverty, and violence in the community. We provide hands on learning experiences with Art Educators so that students can understand the impact of creating art to help reduce stress, lower anxiety levels and improve their mood. Our master classes and panel discussions hosted by well-known actors, musicians, TV personalities and fitness trainers broaden and deepen students’ knowledge and understanding of topics such as mental health, healthy eating and performing arts while providing skills for future learning and opportunities. We create an atmosphere of hope and encouragement while showcasing fun-filled activities throughout the day.
At Bayou Soul Youth Literary Conference, a student might get enchanted with a powerful and uplifting dance or song as well as learn how to write a song, poem or short story. Young people also have an opportunity to compete in the annual Dr. Maya Angelou Oratorical Essay Contest, where they can win cash and prizes to jumpstart their upcoming academic year. Of course, we always bring an exciting food experience by introducing young people to the best of southern cuisine prepared by some of the top chefs in the region. The Bayou Soul Youth Literary Conference offers students an amazing chance to learn the importance of literacy and education of the arts for their future success while nurturing their minds, bodies and souls in a city like none other than the Crescent City.