URU The Right To Be Inc., was founded in 1995 by a group of artists who collectively wanted to give something back to their community, share their creative vision and talent with young people and help prepare them for higher education.  This collaboration of New Haven-based producers, writers and dancers, whose work was showcased nationally, ultimately morphed into URU The Right To Be Inc., a non-profit organization that utilizes art to cast a community in a new light.

URU believes that art can define and transform civilizations and individuals. It is a powerful source of expression and self-empowerment. Art is fundamental to the individual human spirit, as well as to the functioning of a civil, inclusive society.

With support from national creative teams with decades of experience in the crafts of filmmaking and documentary television, and over 30 years of operational nonprofit experience, URU continues to produce powerful projects that inform and inspire a wide range of audiences. URU also maintains a robust internship program that exposes young people within the community to the world of artistic expression and social activism. Many of URU’s former interns have since earned, or are currently pursuing, advanced degrees from colleges and universities throughout the United States, are enrolled in medical school, are attending law school or are working for major media organizations.


  • 2015 URU celebrates its 20th anniversary
  • 425 hours of film footage produced
  • 100,000 children have participated in our events
  • 30 paid student internships provided
  • 300 events and screenings held
  • 2 million people worldwide have experienced our programming
  • Record-breaking mobile mammograms performed on Black women – a new annual record – due to “Woman to Woman: Helping Ourselves” breast cancer awareness project



  • Spirit of Creativity/Kwanzaa at Long Wharf Theatre


  • New Works Festival/International Festival of Arts and Ideas: “Rafting”


  • Sankofa Cultural Arts Festival


  • “Woman to Woman: Helping Ourselves” breast cancer awareness project national tour launched
  • “This Is Where I Live, Don’t Dump On Me!” hands-on environmental workshops
  • “A Way Out Of No Way” This compelling theatre presentation imparts a deeper understanding of, and insight into, the world of women who live in the African-American Diaspora.


  • “Woman to Woman: Helping Ourselves”
  • Breast cancer conferences, workshops, and a theatre presentation, aimed at educating and helping underserved populations, presented in 15 cities, including Bridgeport, Hartford, Stamford and New Haven Connecticut, and Jersey City and Trenton, New Jersey
  • Dental Initiative
  • “Thomas A. Dorsey: The Right To Be,” a made-for-television documentary expressing the broader cultural and religious history of the African American experience from the late 1890s to the late 1950s, as seen through the eyes and music of Thomas Andrew Dorsey (composer of Precious Lord, Take My Hand), universally considered to be the “father of modern gospel music.”



  • Published “Little Man Loses His Tooth”
  • Consulted with New Haven Board of Education to create “Writers Café”
  • URU President Crystal R. Emery received the Congressional Black Caucus Health Brain Trust Award for Journalism
  • “Invisible Nightmare”


  • Archival/contemporary research and photography for biographical photo essay book “Against All Odds: Celebrating Black Women in Medicine” begins
  • Editing resumed on documentary film, Black Women in Medicine
  • URU celebrated its 20th anniversary
  • Sneak previews of documentary film held in New Haven, CT; Boston, MA, and Chicago, IL.
  • “Against All Odds: Celebrating Black Women in Medicine” photo essay book published (First printing: 2015)
  • Changing the Face of Medicine initiative officially launched with “Against All Odds: Celebrating Black Women in Medicine” book-signings at several kickoff events throughout Northeast (New Haven; New York City; Washington, D.C., etc.)
  • “In the Upper Room” – Musical based on the music of Sweet Honey in the Rock. During a 20-city theatrical tour, this created a national wellspring of community partnerships.

2016 – now

  • Black Women in Medicine premieres in New York and Los Angeles, and fulfills all requirements to be eligible for the Oscars
  • Changing the Face of STEM project is launched, expanding Changing the Face of Medicine into an initiative that covers all science, technology, engineering, and math.
  • Work starts on Master Builders of the Modern World: Reimagining the Face of STEM, a photo essay book that profiles women and people of color in STEM fields.
  • “You Can’t Be What You Can’t See” Congressional Forum is hosted by URU at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington DC on June 22, 2017.
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