23 March 2021
By Makhaila Anderson, Queens University News Service
As a dancer, Raven Barkley understands the power of gestures, symbols and movement. All literally guide her life’s journey. She says the poetry of Amanda Gorman and the election of Kamala Harris as vice president show young people of color — all people, really — that they can dream big.
“We still have a lot more work to do as a nation but this is definitely a start,” Barkley, who performs with the Charlotte Ballet, said in a recent interview. “I’ve seen a change in the confidence of our younger generation and how the stars in their eyes light up knowing that they can do that too. They can be in these leadership roles, they can sit at the table, they can discuss the topics that need to be discussed to make a change in our society.”
“I am a firm believer that representation matters,” she said. “If we don’t see women of color or even people of color in these positions, these leadership positions, then we don’t see what the possibility is.”
African-American mentors play a significant role in Barkley’s life. She trained at the Dance Theatre of Harlem in New York City, a company founded by Arthur Mitchell, the first Black principal dancer in the New York City Ballet. The Harlem company is the world’s first Black classical ballet company, and she credits its leaders, Andrea Long, Virginia Johnson, and Robert Garland, for their role in mentoring her.
Read the full article here.