Monday, February 8, 2010

Shoulder to Shoulder: African Americans, the Arts and Autism

An Evening of Theatrical Performances to Celebrate Black History Month and The Pursuit of Human Rights that include Danny Glover, Anna Maria Horsford, James Avery, and CCH Pounder

(Los Angeles, CA--February 1, 2010)--Special Needs Network, Inc. (SNN), The Robey Theatre Company and Ebony Repertory Theatre will present the 1st annual “Shoulder to Shoulder: African-Americans, the Arts and Autism” on Thursday, February 25, 2010 at the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center in Los Angeles from 6pm-9pm. This special event benefiting children with autism and related disorders will feature celebrity actors in an evening of theatrical performances celebrating African American heritage and the pursuit of human rights.

SNN is proud to partner with the City of Los Angeles in raising awareness of autism during African-American Heritage Month. Through this partnership, the City is exercising its commitment to the thousands of children and adults in the City of Los Angeles who have autism and related disorders. Danny Glover joins a renowned group of civic leaders and arts philanthropists as Honorary Co-Chair of this event, including legendary actor Blair Underwood and Dr. LaDoris McClaney.

Joining Honorary Co-Chair Danny Glover on stage will be prominent actors: James Avery, Margaret Avery, Vanessa Bell-Calloway, Elliott Gould, Ben Guillory, Omari Hardwick, Anna Maria Horsford, Harry Lennix, Dawnn Lewis, CCH Pounder, Glynn Turman and other guest performers, subject to availability.

“I am excited about the opportunity to collaborate with the City of Los Angeles, Ebony Repertory Theatre and the Robey Theatre Company during African-American Heritage month on such a unique event,” said Areva D. Martin, Esq., Managing Partner, Martin & Martin, LLP and SNN Co-Founder and President. “Indeed the many rights that children and adults with disabilities enjoy today are because of the sacrifices, vision and shear determination of the pioneers we celebrate this month. We at SNN are humbled and immensely grateful for the many talented actors who are volunteering their time to help us fulfill our mission of raising awareness of autism and its impact on communities of color.”

“The arts is a unique a way to bring attention to the needs of children with autism. The Robey Theatre team and I are glad to be able to share our love of the theatre and to work with SNN on such an important project,”says actor and Honorary Co-Chair Danny Glover.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, autism now impacts one in every 91 children and one in every 58 boys. “An estimated 50 children are diagnosed with autism every day. Individuals diagnosed with autism are now estimated to be in the tens of millions. These alarming statistics highlight the need for events like this in terms of raising awareness of the need for additional funding and services for those families living in poor and low income communities,” says Martin, a legal analyst for the Dr. Phil Show, who was identified by Red Book Magazine as one of 10 women across the nation changing the face of autism and by Woman’s Day as one of its 50 Women on a Mission to Change the World. Martin's second book, "The Everyday Advocate" will be released by Penguin Books in April of this year.

Areva Martin (2nd from right), co-founder and President of the Special Needs Network with Leeza Gibbons, Holly Robinson Peete and Elise Neal at SNN's "Pink Pump Affair" event last year.

Founded in 2005 to address the epidemic proportions in which children of color were being diagnosed with autism and other developmental disorders, SNN is the premiere Los Angeles parent-led grass-roots nonprofit organization working specifically on issues of awareness, policy advocacy and support for families in underrepresented communities. The organization has served over 10,000 families since its inception and has received accolades from local, state and elected officials for its innovative service delivery model. SNN has been featured in the Los Angeles Times and other national publications.

The Robey Theatre is a non-profit organization that takes its name from the pioneering Black actor and activist, Paul Robeson. Led by Producing Artistic Director, Ben Guillory, Robey's mission is to explore and develop relevant provocative, and innovative new plays written about the Black American experience, as well as to reinterpret established works.

The Ebony Repertory Theatre is the resident company and operator of the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center. Under the leadership of Wren T. Brown, it is committed to bringing diverse, high-standard, professional performing arts to the Mid-City community, as well as the greater Los Angeles area.

Shoulder to Shoulder is generously sponsored by; Martin & Martin LLP, Disney, City of Los Angeles, KJLH Radio, Los Angeles Sparks, One Hope Wine, Ebony Repertory Theatre and the Robey Theatre Company. The event is managed by Todd Hawkins of the Todd Group. This event promises to bring inspiration and a call to action through the art of theatre.

For tickets and more information please contact The Todd Group at 310-649-6040 and visit

See previous post on SNN's Pink Pump Affair HERE.

Source and photos: The Todd Group

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