State of the Nation Gathering
This three-day conversation on cultural organizing was part of the 4th Annual State of the Nation Festival in Jackson, MS. The State of the Nation Festival is dedicated to strengthening relationships and supporting collaboration between artists from Louisiana and Mississippi who are committed to addressing social, political, and economic justice issues facing the region. The length of time allotted to this conversation allowed several participants to present their work to the group and to develop an honest conversation about the challenges of the work and how to overcome them. Presenters included Stephanie McKee, Neighborhood Housing Services and Home New Orleans? project; Tufara Mohammad, United African Caravan to the World Social Forum, John O’Neal and Kiyoko McCrae, the Junebug Institute; Nick Slie and Bruce Frances, Mondo Bizzaro’s I-10 Witness Project; Sabir Abdul-Haqq, ACLU of MS’s digital storytelling work; and Amelia Kirby, Appalshop, Thousand Kites Project. The participants included veteran civil rights organizers as well as young artist activists and the gathering was particularly successful as a respectful intergenerational dialogue. This was due, in part, to the time we had, our starting out by telling stories of what brought us to our cultural organizing work, and the facilitation skills of Nayo Watkins.