LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Time is running out to visit the Las Vegas Natural History Museum’s Black History Month exhibit: Resilience. It is a community-created cultural exhibition exploring African American contributions. Several paintings and poems are showcased all month long.

One artist on display is 12-year-old community activist and poet Arianna Shaprow, who is making waves with her words. 

“I want to empower people and inspire people to share their stories,” Shaprow said, with her poem projected on a loop behind her. 

Her poem, also called “Resilience,” highlighted Black Americans’ strength through her family’s past.

“From Holly Springs, Mississippi, and the shackles of slavery to Chicago seeking independence and liberty. This was the journey of my ancestors,” Sharpow read from her poem.

From 1910 to 1970, more than 5 million Black Americans left the South in “The Great Migration,” according to the National Archives. 

Shaprow’s great-grandparents, who moved to Chicago in 1920 for more opportunities, were part of that migration. 

“The Emancipation Proclamation said all the enslaved would be free, but they never really were. They still faced segregation and racism,” Shaprow said.

Her own family faced poverty in Chicago housing tenements. A line from her poem reads, “My relatives suffered rat bites and tuberculous as babies, gunshot wounds and addiction as adults.”

The line draws from Shaprow’s grandmother who had tuberculosis as a small child living in poverty. Shaprow’s mother, Jacqueline, delved into the history of Arianna’s cousin who suffered from a rat bite in the housing tenements, and her great-great aunt died from walking pneumonia. Another great-aunt died from sudden infant death syndrome.

Shaprow drew inspiration from her grandmother Maxine’s childhood and success.

“My grandmother became the first Black assistant district attorney in El Paso, Texas,” she said.

The poem tackled tough subjects and celebrated culture.

Her poem ends, “My ancestors were slaves, refugees, migrants, survivors. This is my lineage. This is my story. We are resilient, resilient survivors.”

A spotlight already shines on Shaprow’s creativity.

Publications including the New York Times Kids Edition have recognized her work, and she is a Ben Carson scholar.

The exhibit runs through the end of February.

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