Finding Strength in Staying True

Evita Colon was dropping meals off to her grandmother when we spoke on the phone. Her roots are in Lancaster—southeast Lancaster to be precise. “I have a lot of passion for the southeast,” says the 29-year old.

It was while attending Shippensburg University that she found her voice. A poet who used the spoken word “as an outlet,” she realized sharing her poetry could “empower others.” She founded Speak to My Soul, which uses the performing arts to “empower, educate, and elevate.” While producing “Speak to My Soul: A Montage of Voices,” she was introduced to Solise White (whose stage name is Solise Kharisma), brought on as the show’s choreographer.

“During my early years I was in and out of shelters, so I used dance to express myself—to express trauma or anything I was going through,” explains White, a native of the Bronx who moved to Pennsylvania as a teen.

While working together, the pair discovered they had much in common, including the arts. Now a married couple, Colon and White are laying the groundwork for a new venture, A Concrete Rose Book Bar. Their vision is to blend a bookstore, urban winery, and live entertainment venue under one roof.

How do you define Strength?

“Strength is when you overcome fear… pushing through it,” says White. Repeating that cycle of overcoming fear, moving on, and conquering the next fear, is what creates growth, she says.

“For me, it’s about resiliency—knowing when to take a break. Strength is knowing when to cry, but also when to stand up and feel empowered—being able to take all the things you’ve been through, to empower others,” Colon says.


“We will be using literature, wine, and culture to immerse our visitors, cultivate creativity, and build a sense of community,” says Colon, who notes authors from the African diaspora will be featured.

They’ve been busy taking winemaking classes at Lancaster Homebrew, finding a location for A Concrete Rose (910 S Duke Street) and planning a summer 2021 opening.

In the meantime, Colon continues her full-time work training “creatives of color” through Speak to My Soul, while White works with area youth through Keystone First Community HealthChoices’ programs.

“We want to give others hope, because we come from places where there isn’t a lot of hope,” Colon says. “We stand as representation for all the communities we’re a part of—being Black, women, and LGBTQ. Each of those communities is usually at a disadvantage, so we want to show people [opening a business] is possible.”

“My eyes are watering, thinking about it [the grand opening],” White says. “It’s powerful and beautiful, especially knowing where we came from and what we were up against; staying true to what we wanted to do.”