Las Imaginistas Take a Road Trip

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May was full of journeys and travel for Las Imaginistas as we joined the Welcoming America Conference in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, attended the ArtPlace Annual Summit in Jackson, Mississippi, and visited our ArtPlace peers at the Maskoke Eco-Village in Alabama. 

At the Welcoming America Conference in Pittsburg, we met colleagues working to build a welcoming movement across the nation, and to create communities of belonging and inclusion across changing demographics. We were excited to build our national support networks and learn how to better create space for welcoming immigrants through Taller de Permiso, which primarily serves mixed status families and immigrants. 

We then traveled to Birmingham, Alabama, where we visited the Civil Rights Institute, the historic black business district, and experienced the epicenter of the fight for civil rights in the South. The importance of learning our history was further solidified on this journey, and we were reminded how our current struggles for liberation and opportunity have a long legacy of overcoming racist policy and institutional barriers placed on brown, black, and indigenous communities. 

In Alabama, we drove to visit our ArtPace friends who have reclaimed ancestral native land, and are building a self-sustaining and flourishing community centering the preservation of language and traditions of the Maskoke tribe. We were so honored and grateful for the opportunity to visit their community and learn from their practice.

In Jackson, Mississippi, we attended the ArtPlace America Annual Summit, where we were graced with a performance from a local Black youth church choir singing heartfelt oldies from Aretha Franklin to the Temptations. We couldn’t sit still, and danced in our chairs and were moved by the power and the immense talent of these young people.  

As part of his keynote speech, Carlton Turner shared an inspiring insight about the South:

"The South is not behind the times, in actuality we are more closely connected to and not in denial about our country’s past.  The struggles we face here are inextricably linked to the liberation of your own communities, anywhere you are.” 

Nansi Guevara