Activists, Artists Breathe Life Into New Visions of our Future

January 25, 2018

As the DREAM Act’s fate plays out in national headlines and ICE raids continue, it is more important than ever that we amplify a narrative that places Future Over Fear. Many in our network are doing just this. From Detention Watch Network’s work to protect undocumented immigrants, to the Creative Changers who are bringing powerful narratives on poverty, racial justice, and women’s rights to life, our partners continue to prove that diversity is our strength.

Detention Watch Network joined together for a press conference and rally last week to condemn Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) recent targeting of leaders and activists of the immigrant rights movement. “Targeting immigrant rights activists to silence political opposition to ICE’s cruel and unjust practices is a clear example of the degradation of democratic values under the Trump administration,” said Communications Institute Fellow Danny Cendejas (CI ’15).  Just this month, there have been several prominent activists and community leaders from coast to coast that have been targeted by ICE. Join Detention Watch Network in their movement for inclusion and opportunity.

Creative Change alumni Mary Kathryn Nagle (CC ’14) and Toshi Reagon (CC ’11) have been awarded U.S. Artists Fellowships, $50,000 awards that recognize artists for their contributions to the field. Mary Kathryn Nagle is an enrolled citizen of the Cherokee Nation and a playwright. Her play, Sliver of a Full Moon, has been performed across the United States. Musician, curator and producer Toshi Reagon knows the power of song to focus, unite, and mobilize people. In addition to touring as a solo artist and with her band, BIGLovely, Toshi is producing several projects including The Blues Project with Michelle Dorrance and the opera Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of The Sower. Congratulations to both women!

A Different Pond, courtesy of Bao Phi

Minneapolis writer and poet Bao Phi (CC ‘12) has won the prestigious Charlotte Zolotow Award for best picture book published in the country. His book, “A Different Pond” was illustrated by Thi Bui and published by Capstone. It tells the story of a little boy and his father slipping out of the house early one morning to go fishing. It's a simple, lovely story, shot through gracefully with themes of immigration, hard work, racism, and the uniting power of nature.

Creative Change alumna Anu Yadav (CC ’16) is putting on a children’s play about wealth inequality, which will be showing at Imagination Stage in Bethesda, MD from Feb. 10 – March 18.  “The Princess and The Pauper,” is a Bollywood feminist spin on the Mark Twain classic. Anu is also doing a residency with the D.C. Public Library as part of its commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Poor People’s Campaign. She will be working with librarians on how to use theater exercises for community building, how to engage with organizers, and connect with the new Poor People’s Campaign today.  

Our partner, Alliance for Families for Justice (AFJ) is celebrating a tenuous victory in improving the lives of those incarcerated. AFJ and fellow advocates have been protesting a restrictive package policy known as 4911A in New York prisons. The policy, which Governor Cuomo rescinded on Jan. 12, eliminates the ability for incarcerated individuals to receive fresh fruits and vegetables, most religious items, and hooded sweatshirts, among other items, and prevented prisoners’ family members from bringing or mailing packages from home. The victory is tenuous because after receiving the directive to rescind 4911A, the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) indicated that they would only “suspend” the policy. To help AFJ continue putting pressure on DOCCS to end this policy, click here or contact them at info@afj-ny.org.