Afrikana Independent Film Festival

6:30PM | Afrikana Roundtable | On Our Shoulders: Richmond as the Cradle of American Blackness

Available in 00d 07h 11m 47s
Available September 19, 2020 10:30 PM UTC
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Ajena Rogers, Supervisory Park Ranger Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site

Ajena Cason Rogers has been the Supervisory Park Ranger at Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site since 2010 where she manages day-to-day interpretive operations, program development, and community outreach. Ajena has been a National Park Service interpreter since 1984 and often feels she “grew up in the Park Service.” During her career, she has worked on the Blue Ridge Parkway, at Booker T. Washington National Monument, Independence National Historical Park, and Valley Forge National Historical Park, but feels that being at Maggie L. Walker NHS is the perfect fit. “It allows me to bring together my love of historical storytelling, my passion for interpreting the experiences of women and African Americans, and the community leadership and public history skills I learned through the years to help more people know about a wonderful, inspirational leader such as Maggie Walker—a dream come true!”

Elvatrice Belsches, co-founder of the Central Virginia African-American Genealogical and Historical Society

Elvatrice Parker Belsches is the co-founder of the Central Virginia African-American Genealogical and Historical Society. A documentary filmmaker, she has lectured nationally on genealogy and slavery. In Black America: Richmond, Ms. Belsches offers a lovingly crafted and meticulously researched history to share with all those who call Richmond home.

Melody Short, Co-founder, Richmond Night Market, The Jackson Ward Collective

Melody Short is a graduate of Morgan State University’s Earl Graves School of Business and a marketing executive, focused on business development and brand development for minority owned businesses. Melody jump-started her career in the Urban Marketing Department of Sony Music Distribution. Her career in the music industry afforded her the opportunity to establish relationships with small business owners in the Mid-Atlantic, Northeast and Southwest markets. This proved pivotal to Melody’s career, because it’s where she developed a passion for supporting small business owners.

As an entrepreneur and co-founder of the Richmond Night Market, she supports small business owners and independent artists in areas to include public relations, marketing and business development. Melody is the former Director of Marketing and Business Development for the largest collection of Black-owned Inns in the United States, Akwaaba Bed & Breakfast Inns and was featured as part of the cast of their television show, on the OWN Network, Checked Inn. Melody currently serves the small business community of Richmond, Virginia with a focus on minority and women owned businesses as the Membership & Marketing Coordinator at the Metropolitan Business League, and as the Co-founder of The Jackson Ward Collecte, an incubator for Black business owners and selected partners to share resources, experiences and expertise to build and grow strong, sustainable Black owned businesses in Richmond, VA. In addition, Melody serves on the board of the Afrikana Independent Film Festival, Minority Business Enterprise and Emerging Small Business Advisory Board for the City of Richmond and most recently, the Venture Richmond Economic Opportunity Committee. All this while managing her most important role of all--mother to 12-year old Nia Abiose.


Dr. Sesha Joi Moon

Dr. Sesha Joi Moon is a Senior Human Capital Strategist at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office within the U.S. Department of Commerce. During her time with the Department, she has received the Commerce Spirit Award and was profiled for the Spotlight on Commerce for Black History Month and LGBT Pride Month. She is currently a Research Fellow with The Conference Board’s Engagement Institute where she is examining the intersection of diversity, equity, and inclusion with employee engagement as part of the Employee Engagement and Experience Council. She is also a Senior Fellow of the Excellence in Government Fellowship Program with the Partnership for Public Service -- where she continues to serve as a Mentor as part of the Emerging HR Leaders Program.