Black Storytellers Alliance (BSA) is a nonprofit organization in North Minneapolis, Minnesota dedicated to walking alongside our community in finding, connecting, and expanding the knowledge, practice, and power of the African Oral Tradition once practiced widely across the African Diaspora many years ago.
In 1976, Nothando Zulu (Cofounder of BSA) was a part of a group of students at the University of Minnesota who started what was once known as the Black Theatre Alliance. This was an ensemble of creatives from the African/African American community across the diaspora (Lou Bellamy, Horace Bond, Jerri Alexander, Jerry Blue, and many more). The goal of the Black Theatre Alliance was "to take theater to the community" without a stage. Over the years, the alliance naturally morphed into a collective of storytellers.
In 1990, Nothando and Vusumuzi Zulu made a journey to South Carolina to attend the National Association of Black Storytellers Festival (NABS). Founded by Mother Mary Carter Smith and Linda Goss, NABS was created to provide more opportunities for Black storytellers to be seen and heard while still ensuring the rich heritage of the African Oral Tradition be shared and preserved. After an incredible experience (witnessing storytelling legends such as Jackie Torrence) Vusi and Nothando knew exactly what they needed to do. Not long after returning to the Minneapolis, the previously known Black Theatre Alliance became newly known as the Black Storytellers Alliance (BSA).
Today, BSA is one of 15 national affiliates of NABS. For 30+ years Nothando and Vusi have taken the art of Black storytelling anywhere they are given an opportunity to. Schools to senior centers, corporations to community organizations, churches to prisons, libraries, weddings, family reunions, and many more.
This work is important. Storytellers use this work as an opportunity to share with the world who we are, where we've been (our history), our contributions, our legacies. We believe these traditions have to be protected and passed down from generation to generation.
The Role of the storyteller(Griot) was to keep the record, to protect the history of the kingdom, and to immortalize their people through story and song i.e Sundiata stories.There were also many morals that these storytellers would weave into the fabric of their various tales filled with unique reflective characters.
Many of these stories have lived on through today. Many of our Master storytellers learn these stories and share them with the community.
We also share stories about historical African American figures who have left a profound impact on our people. These individuals are both known and unknown, world famous, and Community legend.
Our Mission is to preserve and maintain the art of storytelling through the positive reinforcement of the rich beauty that comes when we embody the telling of our story "The Story". We seek to develop a generation of storytellers walking in who they know they are meant to be.
On this page you will experience storytellers from across the United States who have shared their power of story across the world!
We hope you enjoy!
Embrace the journey, Embody the journey