Nashville, TENN – The Carrie Mae Williams Center was something that started over time in the mind of Dr. Shauntazia Shorter. This month, her expo starts with classes for kids and entrepreneurs 21 and under to give them the skills they need. After experiencing so much transience as a child, the expo is one of many steps Dr. Shorter has taken to see the needs of families like hers growing up in in Memphis.
“I came from a family where trauma was normal from generation to generation and it was so heavy, that by the time it had reached me at the tender age of 13, I had attempted suicide at least twice. The last time I attempted suicide I woke up the next day and I was given my vision to heal families and that is what made me start the Carrie Mae Williams Center and the whole goal is to not only survive and heal from their trauma, but to thrive as individuals who are proud of their cultural distinctions and are able to pass down generational blessings instead of curses.”
Ultimately Dr. Shorter would move to Nashville to attend Tennessee State University where she would begin studying as an educator. Once she realized that education is the intersection of cognitive and behavioral development, she began unpacking and working through her trauma by applying psychological theories and behavioral interventions to herself and her students. Eventually, she would officially form the Carrie Mae Williams Center-a 501c3 organization which provides programming that attacks Adverse Childhood Experiences—traumas that you experience as a child before the age of 18. Founded in 2017 and incorporated in 2019, the organization works to provide everything from counseling to life coaching to workshops all with the goal of understanding how our trauma influences our ability to elevate in society.
“My goal is to teach people like me to not just survive trauma, but to thrive.”
The first in a long line of offerings is the Rites of Spring Youth Expo. The actual expo is on the 25th of April, from 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM at the McGruder Family Resource Center, but there are three workshops on April 13th, 20th and 22nd that will prepare each young entrepreneur for the expo on the 25th. The first one is titled “Entrepreneurship 101” and that will be taught by Sylvia Hardie. The second is on April 20th will be titled “Budgeting and Goal Setting” and will be taught by Marvin Smith. The third one is on April 22nd and will be called “Creating a Pitch”, taught by Shana Berkely of Corner to Corner.
“The expo offers education to young entrepreneurs ages 23 and younger. That education begins on Tuesday, April 13th at McGruder Family Resource Center (2013 25th Avenue North, Nashville, TN 37208) and those are prior to the expo. The young entrepreneurs will be able to show off their training at the day of the expo by setting up booths like a traditional marketplace. We will have a pitch competition, a TikTok competition, a show with performances sponsored by Breaking Underground and there will also be some Social Services organizations there ready to support families in any way possible. We are still recruiting food trucks and adult vendors to be there as well. “
Signups for the workshops are still ongoing and although you are encouraged to make all workshops, missing the first of the second one does not mean you cannot come to any of the events.
“If you don’t make it to the first workshop and you want to come to the second one and/or the third one, you can absolutely do that. You just need to make sure that you sign up and register.”
The registration is currently going on and will be going on all the way up to the 23rd, two days before the expo is to begin. And for those wondering where the expo will be, that will also be at the McGruder Family Resource Center. Also, if you are a vendor and you don’t get to attend or choose not to attend a workshop, then you can still participate in the expo on the 25th. There is no admission fee, and the expo is free to attend, but donations are encouraged. Tickets can be purchased through EventBrite or donations can be made on the website at www.carriemaewilliamscenter.org . The cost for vendors 21 and under to be there and set up is $40 and the cost for vendors older than 21 is $60. For young vendors that go through the workshops, there will be entrepreneur starter kits given based on the need’s assessment of each young person who registers.
This event and all events for Dr. Shorter involving the Carrie Mae Williams Center are more than just something to do. These events mean something to her as evidenced by her past and they also mean something to her regarding a goal for Black people as a whole.
“The goal of the Carrie Mae Williams Center is to build a community of healed families who are very much so aware of themselves, their family history, emotionally intelligent, economically and financially literate, proud of their cultural distinction, living their best lives and perpetuating generational gifts and blessings instead of generational curses that we hear so much about.”
For more information on the expo and how to register along with any other information regarding the Carrie Mae Williams Center, please head to www.carriemaewilliamscenter.org.