Earlier this month, many of the Opportunity Agenda’s partners, Communications Fellows, and Creative Change alumni took Netroots Nation by storm. In Phoenix, Arizona they gave engaging performances, spoke on panels, and joined progressives from all over the country in #BlackLivesMatter and immigration protests. Additionally, in the run up to the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, our partners in the Gulf Coast have been working hard to ensure that the commemorations focus on amplifying the voices of those most affected by the tragedy. Through concerted efforts, they have been working to tell the nation the story of New Orleans’ recovery from Katrina. Read about this and other work our Creative Change Alumni have been up to:
On July 16, Communications Fellow and Creative Change alumnus Elon James White (CC ’11, CC ’12, CI ’15) moderated the Netroots Nation panel hosted by his award-winning web-series, This Week in Blackness! As Netroot’s media coordinator, Elon also played a key role in organizing the conference as a whole. After a #BlackLivesMatter protest took place during the Presidential Town Hall, he vocally supported those challenging presidential candidates Martin O’Malley and Bernie Sanders to listen to the voices that are so often ignored. Learn more about This Week in Blackness!
Just a few days after Jose Antonio Vargas (CC ‘12) moderated one of the most discussed events at Netroots, the Presidential Town Hall with Martin O’Malley and Bernie Sanders, his new documentary, White People, premiered on MTV. This powerful piece about race and immigration in America captured the attention of the public and the national media. By the end of the night, #WhitePeople was the number one hashtag on Twitter, and countless people joined an impromptu conversation on the American immigrant experience. Read more.
Jasiri X (CC ’13, CC ‘12) took to the Netroots media stage on July 17 for an original hip-hop performance. A rapper known for blending social commentary and spoken word, Jarisi X was warmly welcomed by the crowd for his third Netroots performance. Check out his performance here.
Dragonfly (CC ’14), the actress who plays The Opportunity Agenda’s social justice superhero Helvetika Bold, attended Netroots in character to spread our message of equality and opportunity. She brought Helvetika to life in full costume, as she interacted with fans, shared messaging material, and took to the This Week in Blackness! media stage for a faceoff with her arch-nemesis, The Mindset. Dragonfly also took a break from her superhero role to speak on the “Women on the Musical Frontlines” panel discussion where she talked about her experience as Miss Justice Jester, singing on the frontlines and fighting for social justice.
Dragonfly was joined on the TWiB media stage by Gan Golan (CC ’14), the co-creator and artist behind Helvetika Bold. Gan got into character for the public debut of The Mindset, the villain who tries to counter Helvetika Bold’s work by proliferating the dominant narrative. On stage, The Mindset and Helvetika Bold faced off in a battle for our shared narrative and national values. Helvetika ultimately walked away victorious. Check out the video here.
Street artist Brandan Odums (CC ’14) presented at TED x New Orleans last month. The TED X focused on sharing the story of the recovery and resilience of Greater New Orleans. Brandan discussed his most recent work, ExhibitBE, the largest graffiti gathering in the South. ExhibitBE is held at the site of an abandoned five-story apartment building on the West Bank in New Orleans. In 2014, ExhibitBE gained national attention, welcoming over 100,000 visitors during its three month opening. Read more.
Gulf South Rising, a regional movement of coordinated actions and events aimed at highlighting the impact of the global climate crisis on the Gulf South region, coordinated by Jayeesha Dutta (CC ’15), has been organizing regular meetings, calling together folks to work on ensuring that a fair and honest narrative is magnified during the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. All who care about justice and equity are welcome to attend. Learn more.
Beka Economopoulos (CC ‘12) has continued her advocacy efforts against fossil fuels and has public encouraged the Smithsonian to cut ties with the Koch brothers. She spoke with The Currant following the publication of the papal encyclical on climate change. Read the full interview.
Carmen Perez (CC ’15) and The Gathering for Justice are working to raise the age at which someone can be incarcerated as an adult in New York. In an open letter to Governor Cuomo, The Gathering for Justice highlighted the unfairness inherent in prosecuting 16- and 17- year olds as adults. This treatment, they explained, leads to tragedies like Kaleif Browder’s suicide following his extended solitary confinement at Riker’s Island. Read the letter.
Yudith Azareth (CC ’16) has launched a campaign to help her organization, Ever Ribbon, fund a training in the Rio Grande Valley on cultural sensitivity, creative resistance, and non-violent direct action. Ever Ribbon plans to spend two days teaching activists to engage more effectively and building ties across the environmental justice movement. Learn more