Resistance and Rebellion

October 17, 2015

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Cowles Auditorium
HHH Institute of Public Affairs
University of Minnesota
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Eventbrite - Convening: Resistance and Rebellion

About the Convening

Resistance and Rebellion is a day-long international convening exploring the role of art in revolution.

The convening will bring together contemporary artists, activists, critics, and writers to discuss the impact of art on movements for liberation. Looking at the future of resistance through the lens of history from rebellions to Black Lives Matter to uprisings in the streets, the convening will create a space for discovery and collaboration.

Throughout the convening, participants will have opportunities to see and support artists’ work and scholarship, participate in roundtables, and witness the brilliance of youth organizing and performance.

Resistance and Rebellion is intended to build strong connections between national and Twin Cities-based artists, writers, young people, educators, and activists working in movements for racial equality. We intend for the conversations started at the Resistance and Rebellion convening to continue, and for new partnerships and alliances to be built. Come to inspire or be inspired.

Resistance and Rebellion is convened by the Givens Foundation for African American Literature in partnership with Million Artist Movement.

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Sarah Bellamy

Sarah Bellamy is Co-Artistic Director for Penumbra Theatre Company. She has designed several programs that engage patrons in critical thinking, dialogue, and action around issues of race and social justice. Select programs include Penumbra's Race Workshop curated to accompany the Science Museum of Minnesota’s exhibit RACE: Are We So Different? and the Summer Institute, a leadership development program for teens to practice art for social change. A graduate ofSarahLawrence College, Ms. Bellamy also holds an M.A. in the Humanities from The University of Chicago and is currently the Visiting Professor of Theatre and Culture at United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities. She serves as a Vice Chair of the Board of Directors for Theatre Communications Group and is Chair of the TCG Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity Committee. She is a 2015 Bush Fellow.

Adrienne Maree Brown

Adrienne Maree Brown, was a 2013 Kresge Literary Arts Fellow in science fiction writing, and is the co-editor of the new anthology Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction from Social Justice Movements, with Walidah Imarisha. Adrienne helped to launch the Octavia Butler and Emergent Strategy Reading Network for people interested in reading Butler’s science fiction from a political and strategic framework, and is building with Octavia E. Butler Legacy Network to further extend her work.

Thelma Buckner

Thelma Battle-Buckner has lived a remarkable life with grace - as a worker, musician, preacher, unpaid social worker, and mother of eight children.

As an author, Thelma Battle-Buckner has stitched together, brilliantly, a dazzling tapestry of her family's will to overcome whatever obstacles life's circumstance places before it. The Battle of a Daytime Nightmare is about her and her family's journey. Begun as a favor to her bother, Piece by Piece Quilt Shop was founded by Thelma Battle-Buckner. She thought she'd use her skills as a quilt-maker to teach kids how to sew as a way to keep them occupied and off the streets. To date, thousands of quilts have been made by children. As a professional singer, she was a member of the Premiers Gospel Singers (Saint Paul, MN) as well as the lead vocalist for the Chariottes Gospel Singers of the Twin Cities. From 1957 to 1967, Thelma appeared on a monthly television show sponsored by the University of Minnesota called "Music and Man," produced by Emily Prey. She played piano for the church, sang on a Gospel radio station and appeared on television for 35 years for "Your Church of the Air," KSTP Channel 5, Twin Cities, MN. Battle-Buckner also acted and sang at the Cricket Theater in 1993 and the Illusion Theater in 1995; and performed the story of her life at the Ordway Theater in 1996. Next to the God she serves, her children are the center-post of this endearing life.


Beverly Cottman

Beverly Cottman is a multidisciplinary artist creating at the intersections of visual, performance, and literary arts. She creates assemblage and collage art works from found objects, tells African and African American folktales and fables as Auntie Beverly, writes poetry, and in all things celebrates the rich heritage and culture of the African Diaspora. She has been a performing storyteller since 1997 and studies with master artists in theater, music, dance and percussion. Beverly has produced storytelling programs for radio and presents workshops on how educators can use storytelling to enhance and enrich literacy instruction.

YK Hong

YK Hong has been doing trainings and talks around organizational change, liberation and community organizing since 1996. Through work abroad and nationally, YK has been committed to developing a radical political education curriculum and organizing for marginalized communities. YK was the founder and lead trainer for Freedom Trainers, a national training collective and continues the work traveling independently and talking about her experiences, lessons and work.YK is also a visual artist and addresses anti-oppression in her creative themes. YK is also a freelance writer, web and graphic designer, Mac techie and coder currently residing in Brooklyn, NY.

Walidah Imarisha

Octavia's Brood co-editor Walidah Imarisha is a writer, organizer, educator and spoken word artist. She has been a professor for programs in black studies and gender equity programs, and is a scholar with the Oregon Humanities’ Conversation Project, touring Oregon for six years facilitating programs on topics such as Oregon Black history, alternatives to incarceration and the history of hip hop. One of the co-founders and first editor of political hip hop publication AWOL Magazine, Walidah also helped found the Human Rights Coalition, a Pennsylvania organization led by prisoners’ families and former prisoners. Walidah directed the 2005 Katrina documentary Finding Common Ground in New Orleans.

Zenzele Isoke

Zenzele Isoke is Associate Professor of Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies at the University of Minnesota. She studies black women’s community politics and activisms in urban spaces. She teaches courses in feminist theory and methods, black feminist geographies, hip hop feminism, and women of color social movements. Her first book entitled, Urban Black Women and the Politics of Resistance was published in Palgrave-MacMillan Press 2013. Her work has been published in Transforming Anthropology: A Journal of Black AnthropologyGender, Place, and Culture: A Journal of Feminist Geography, and Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture, and Society. Her second book project called "Unheard Voices at the Bottom of Empire: Translocal Sites of Black Feminist Resistance" is a qualitative examination of black women’s resistance politics across multiple sites in the black/African diaspora including the Dubai, UAE, Twin Cities, Port au Prince, Harlem and Brooklyn.

Andrea Jenkins

Andrea is a South Minneapolis-based playwright, curator, visual artist, poet, writer, spoken word artist, performer, trans activist and Bush Leadership Fellow. In addition to the Many Voices and Bush Leadership Fellowships, she was awarded Naked Stages and Verve Grants in 2010, and in 2002 she received the Loft Mentor Series Award for Poetry. Since 2006 she has co-curated the Queer Voices series at Intermedia Arts, which is the longest running GLBT reading series in the country. She is a former board member of OutFront Minnesota, Forecast Public Art, SMARTS, District 202, P-Fund, The Minnesota HIV Planning Council, The Funding Exchange, and the National Writers Union. She holds a B.A. in Human Services from Metropolitan State University, a M.S. in Community Economic Development from Southern New Hampshire University, and a MFA in Creative Writing from Hamline University. Andrea regularly performs throughout the Twin Cities and is the author of two chapbooks, "tributaries: poems celebrating black history" and "Pieces of a Scream." Her work has been published in several newspapers, journals, and anthologies. When she’s not lending her skills to almost every area of the Twin Cities art scene, she is the Minneapolis 8th Ward Senior Policy Aid in the office of Councilwoman Elizabeth Glidden.

Dean Moss

Dean Moss is a dance based multidisciplinary theater and video artist, curator and lecturer. He investigates perceptions of self and other, often incorporating transcultural performance collaborations, and audience participation. He is the recipient of the inaugural Doris Duke Impact Award in Theater; a Guggenheim Fellowship in Choreography; Foundation for Contemporary Arts Artists Grant; and a New York Dance and Performance "Bessie" Award for his work Spooky action at a distance.

Million Artist Movement

Million Artist Movement, a Twin Cities-based organization that has national adherents, and with the mission to "be a network of committed artists and activists that are speaking out as survivors of oppression and a system that dehumanizes the people, particularly Black bodies." They are our partners for the convening, and will be part of a performance action.

Bree Newsome

Bree Newsome, is an award-winning filmmaker, writer, composer, singer, community activist and organizer. As she watched the funeral of Rev. Clemenza Pinkney, one of 9 people slaughtered in the name of white supremacy at Mother Emmanuel Church in Charleston, SC, she recognized the message being communicated clearly by the US flag and the S.C. State flag at half-mast while the Confederate flag remained fully furled. Refusing to accept the premise of this image - that white supremacy is supreme, untouchable and invincible - she scaled the 30ft flagpole in front of the SC statehouse and removed the "stars and bars" declaring, "This flag comes down today!" Bree’s intention was to create a new image, a new symbol and a new consciousness of the power inherent in direct action. The iconic picture of her on the pole, flag in hand has become a touchstone of empowerment for disenfranchised people around the world. Newsome will be delivering the closing remarks, speaking about action in the South Carolina.

J. Otis Powell Headshot.JPG

J. Otis Powell‽

J. Otis Powell‽ is a poet, mentor, consultant and performer working in aesthetics rooted in Afrocentric lore and culture. His work is informed by oral traditions in literature, music, and the Black Arts Movement. Powell‽ was a cohort in Intermedia Arts' Creative Community Leadership Institute and served on a community advisory panel to create Spirit Reach: a Tribute to Imamu Amiri Baraka. He currently works as a consultant and coordinator for the Verve program for emerging writers.

J. Otis‽ studied with Gloria Anzaldúa, Quincy Troupe, Amiri Baraka, Alexs Pate, Sekou Sundiata and Yusef Komunyakaa. He worked as co-mentor and performed with Amiri Baraka for the Givens Writer's Retreat and with TruRuts Endeavors in a production of Whys, Wise, Ys. Grants and awards include: recipient of a Loft Creative Nonfiction Award, a Jerome Travel and Study Grant as well as a Jerome Mid Career Artist Grant and an Intermedia Arts Interdisciplinary McKnight Fellowship, among others.

Mr. Powell‽ is a coeditor and contributor to Blues Visions an anthology published by the MN Historical Society. His writing was included in: Barefoot In The Mountains, Views From The Loft (an anthology) and his poetry was featured in Bringing Gifts, Bringing News an anthology of poems from Downstairs Press. A CD project titled BALM was released through TruRuts/Speak Easy Records.

He was a founding producer of the award winning Write On Radio! at KFAI-FM in Minneapolis while working as a program director and community liaison at the Loft Literary Center. He wrote, with editorial collaboration and design from Rain Taxi a chapbook titled Pieces of Sky. 

Dread Scott

Dread Scott makes revolutionary art to propel history forward. In 1989, the entire US Senate denounced and outlawed his artwork and President Bush declared it "disgraceful" because of its use of the American flag. His work has been exhibited/performed at the Whitney Museum, MoMA/PS1, BAM Fisher and galleries and street corners across the country.


CheyOnna Sewell

New to Minneapolis, CheyOnna Sewell spends her time and energy on her arts (knitting and crocheting), cats, family, The Yarn Mission (an anti-racist/anti-sexist/anti-oppression knitting collective that she founded), Black Liberation, and working on a dissertation in Criminology and Criminal Justice.

Roger Guenveur Smith

Roger Guenveur Smith is an American actor, writer, and director who's appeared in films such as "American Gangster", "Final Destination", and Spike Lee's "Do The Right Thing". He studied at Yale University and Occidental College, and has taught at both institutions, as well as Cal Arts, where he currently directs his Performing History Workshop. 

He is currently touring his critically acclaimed solo performance piece, "Rodney King", including stints at New York’s The Public Theater and The Wooly Mammoth Theater in Washington, DC. The LA Weekly named "Rodney King" as one of their "Top Ten Plays of 2013″. 

In addition to his work in film, Roger has created, performed, and directed an astonishing body of work for the international stage. He adapted his Obie Award winning solo performance of "A Huey P. Newton Story" into a Peabody Award winning telefilm directed by Spike Lee, a signature tour de force of which the New York times wrote, "Roger Guenveur Smith gets it all, and gets it brilliantly."

Among his other historically-driven solos are "Frederick Douglass Now", "Who Killed Bob Marley?", "In Honor Of Jean-Michell Basquat Iceland", "Juan and John", "The Watts Towers Project", "Twenty Twenty", and "The End Of black History Month". The acclaimed duet "Inside the Creole Mafia" is a "not too dark comedy" performed with Mark Broyard. 

Mr. Smith also collaborates frequently with the composer / videographer Marc Anthony Thompson, who joined him onstage for "Christopher Columbus", "1992", "Two Fires", and scored "Rodney King". Their latest collaboration, "Five Hundred Lives Per Mile", is inspired by the construction of the Panama Canal, and its human costs. 

Among the many institutions which have presented his work are the Public Theater, the Walker Art Center, the Barbjcan Centre, Kaiitheater, and the Calabash International Literary Festival, Jamaica.


A freedom singer from the South Bronx by way of Brooklyn, Spiritchild uses the arts to cultivate a cultural revolution throughout the world, from the United States to Europe, from Africa to South East Asia. This artist’s eclectic and experimental fusion of true school Hip Hop, funk, electronica and jazz continues to break the boundaries of the music scene. As Spiritchild channels the frequencies of J Dilla having tea with Sun Ra, painting the silhouettes of Nina Simone remixing El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz also known as Malcolm X, no one shares the time and the space without being moved in body, mind, heart and soul.   Spiritchild integrates revolution and Hip Hop music throughout all his endeavors, as a musician, DJ/ soul selector, producer, facilitator and mentor for youth, organizer and founder of the International Movement In Motion Artist & Activist Collective, cofounder along with Fred Ho of a new black arts movement and Vice President of the Universal Zulu Nation's Brooklyn Territory.

Leon A. Waters

Mr. Leon August Waters is a 65 year old native of New Orleans, Louisiana. He is a writer and presenter on historical subjects and social concerns; and currently serves as co-host to the weekly radio show – The Road to Revolution. He has published one book titled On To New Orleans: Louisiana’s Heroic 1811 Slave Revolt.

Chaun Webster

Poet/performer/trickster/publisher/co founder and co owner of Ancestry Books, Webster's first full length collection of poems, Fuck Poetry: Bread is the Politik of the Hungry was published in 2010 by Free Poet's Press. Their work exists at the intersections of people and place questioning norms of legitimacy and utilizing counter myths as a means of remapping origin and possibility. Webster's latest book, Because When We Say NAT It Be Writ Large, is a biomythography published in 2013 by Free Poet's Press of which Douglas Kearney says "Webster's words run off into the bush, not to flee but to ambush, not to hide but to shake every tree."

Marcus Young

Marcus Young 楊墨is a behavioral and social practice artist making work for stages, museums, and the public realm. Interested in DIY mind-body practice, he createdDon’t You Feel It Too?—a participatory street dance form for social healing and inner life liberation. Since 2006, as City Artist, a program of Public Art Saint Paul, Marcus has redefined the role of the artist working within city government. His project Everyday Poems for City Sidewalk has transformed the city’s annual sidewalk maintenance program into a publishing entity for poetry. Born in Hong Kong, Marcus has a BA in music from Carleton College and an MFA in theater from the University of Minnesota.

Nothando Zulu

I am a community activist and a master storyteller. I believe in the power of stories and have been sharing stories with audiences for over 30 years. I share stories that entertain, educate, motivate and inspire. I have performed at many venues locally, nationally and internationally. I draw from and extensive resource of colorful, often funny characters whose antics and follies leave audiences pondering their own life’s lessons. African American literature was important to me long before I began to tell stories as a performer. I actively sought and bought African American books. Ebony magazine was a great help because each month they shared a column of selected authors and titles. This enabled me to special order a trilogy by Rose Guy for my daughter’s 16th birthday. I was ecstatic to participate in A Finer Frame, the Givens Collection’s exhibit. We traveled to several Minnesota colleges to share Harlem Renaissance information through the voices and stories of Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston. Since then I have taught storytelling in middle and high schools. African America literature has played a big part in my personal and artistic development as a storyteller/ performance artist. I find that short stories are excellent for retelling to a wide audience.



08:45 AM

Welcome remarks


09:00 AM

Opening keynote conversation between Roger Guenveur Smith and Sarah Bellamy


10:15 AM

Breakout conversations and workshops:


Considering the Obvious - Works and Conversation with Dean Moss

Join Dean Moss for an intimate conversation about his work, johnbrown, a performative meditation on the complicated, controversial legacy of 19th-century abolitionist John Brown. Moss integrates transfixing choreography, visual design, video, theater, and community participation to question not only the turbulent past of a historical figure but also the racial, gender, and generational processes at play in the inquiry. This ambitious socio-historical critique offers a fascinating intersection of ideas, identities, and ideologies.

johnbrown is presented in conjunction with Resistance and Rebellion, and co-presented with the Walker Art Center. Visit for details and tickets.


Alternative Ecologies & Economies - Conversation with Chaun Webster

This conversation will center on the critical role of authorship and publishing for communities of color. We will explore models and methods past and present from Black-owned bookstores to zine publications and archives. What is the rubric for success? How do these exemplars embody an act of resistance? What will be the role of Black owned bookstores and zines in the future?


Don't You Feel It Too? - Dancing as Resistance/Protest/Celebration with Marcus Young

Don’t You Feel It Too? started in 2008 from dancing in the streets protesting and processing the fear and anger pervasive during the Republican National Convention in St. Paul. Since then, the practice has become an ongoing, free drop-in practice open to anyone. The practice cultivates personal resiliency and public compassion around social justice issues. Come learn about the development of DYFIT? and how dance can be both rebellion and healing practice.


Yarn Mission - Black Radical Knitters with CheyOnna Sewell

The Yarn Mission was created in October, 2014 as activism in the St. Louis area expanded showing breadth and longevity. While the community reacted to police murders of disproportionately young Black men and women (an issue that existed before the Summer of 2014), organizations that existed expanded their audience-base and new organizations emerged. The Yarn Mission was created to support and promote anti-racism/anti-sexism/anti-oppression activism. Come learn to knit and learn about the Yarn Mission from CheyOnna Sewell in MN working on a dissertation in Criminology and Criminal Justice


Power Tree Quilt - Join the Movement with Thelma Buckner and Million Artist Movement

In this hands-on art making workshop participants will learn about the Power Tree Framework and create their own panel for the Power Tree Quilt. Hear from visionary, and founder of Piece by Piece, Thelma Bukner about her role in the movement while you add your voice, your story, your struggles and your triumphs with more than 250 people stitched into the quilt. Piece by Piece quilt shop in St. Paul has made thousands of quilts for the community while fulfilling their intergenerational mission occupying the hands of children and elderly alike.


Bring the Revolution Front and Center with spiritchild, YK Hong, Beverly Cottman

Learn about how these talented artists are bringing resistance, rebellion, and revolution into their diverse work and practices; from classrooms, to stages, to galleries, to workshops and beyond.


11:15 AM



11:30 AM

Owning Our Narratives: Past, Present, Future

Join these powerful writers, editors, storytellers, and scholars as they discuss the importance of owning our narratives. These panelists represent a myriad of voices and disciplines but all offer a unique perspective about the challenges and of storytelling as resistance. From science fiction to poetry to oral histories, these panelists will speak about their work and perspectives that honor our rich traditions, our present realities, and our boundless futures.


01:00 PM

Lunch, Socializing, and Marketplace


02:00 PM

Slavery, Slave rebellion and Slave Rebellion Reenactment

Dread Scott, interdisciplinary revolutionary artist, talks with author, historian, and radio host Leon A. Waters about slavery and slave rebellion. Mr. Waters has been working on the interface of social classes and mass resistance in a variety of forms including an examination of social history that is "hidden history", social inequality, and resistance. His work on the largest slave revolt in the United States is the nucleus in the unearthing of many areas of Louisiana’s hidden history that has been suppressed. Dread Scott makes revolutionary art to propel history forward. For three decades he has made work that encourages viewers to re-examine cohering norms of American society.


03:00 PM

Million Artist Movement: Youth Presentation

Young performers from across the Twin Cities have come together to create a short piece of theatre inspired by poems from Blues Vision and their own experiences. Their presentation will be followed by lively a discussion about their process, the Million Artist Movement, and the role of youth in the Movement for Black Lives.


3:45 PM



04:00 PM

Closing keynote conversation between Bree Newsome and Signe Harriday


05:00 PM



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