2020: What a Year. Reflections, Funder Thanks & New Short Film

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Click HERE to watch the Remembering, the Now. Conceived and directed by Melisa Cardona, Poem by Jonathan Clark.


December 17, 2020


2020. What a year. 


When we chose The Fierce Urgency of Now as our 2020 theme, we knew it was right, but we didn’t know just how right it would be. Looking back, we take pride in the ways we’ve shown up for all that the NOW was asking of us.

We re-envisioned our staff structure, welcomed six new staff members, said goodbye to one, supported one on (paid!) parental leave, and one on (paid!) sabbatical. We released and dove into our new strategic plan. In the midst of a global pandemic, we centered our staff’s well being.


The Alternate ROOTS staff at our end of year party – accessorized with the ribbon from our holiday gifts and sending love to our colleagues not present: Aimee McCoy and Paige Heurtin.

Within days of the COVID-19 hitting the country, we launched the Solidarity Fund 1.0, compiled a resource page, and opened up weekly Porch Sits as a virtual space to maintain community connection through this uncertain time.

We were at the table, advocating for artists’ relief in federal and philanthropic sectors. Together with our ILI partners, we won major relief funding for BIPOC and Southern artists. Together with Southern movement partners, we developed the Southern Power Fund. All together, we raised ten million dollars! (See our funder thank you below!)

We dramatically expanded our Strategic Partnerships work, launching Partners for Change in February and Solidarity Fund 2.0 in September. We redistributed nearly $800,000 through all our partnership programs.


The Urgency of Now by Karla Rosas and Fernando Lopez, created for ROOTS Week 2020, featuring C. Gypsi Lewis. Click here to read the artists statement on our blog.  

We reimagined ROOTS Week into the virtual sphere, curating panels, performances, visual arts exhibitions, and Late Nights. The Gender Equity workgroup showed up and showed out, artists with disabilities took center stage, and we wove language justice throughout in partnership with the Bancha Lenguas collective. (Check out the collectively curated ROOTS Week playlist The Fierce Urgency of Now HERE!)

We continued as an anchor organization in the Southern Movement Assembly, supporting the Arkansas Organizing Intensive in March and SMA 9 in November. We partnered with the Highlander Center to support poll parties during this historic election – 50 creative interventions to bring joy, dignity, and safety to the polls across the South.

In 2020, we showed up for our people, our mission, and this momentous time in history. Big thanks to our amazing members, staff, Executive Committee, and movement partners. You are the heart and soul of Alternate ROOTS. 

Now let’s all get some rest: our 45th anniversary year is right around the corner!


Gratitude to Our Supporters 


From the bottom of our hearts, thank you for your generous support of Alternate ROOTS in 2020. Your support was critical to providing needed aid to artists, culture bearers and community organizers, and their families in the South. As a supporter of our organization, you’re a part of something really special – you’re a part of our community. And you help to sustain all that we do.

All gifts, regardless of size, are significant and we are deeply grateful for your ongoing support! As you view the beautiful short film and read through this end of year reflection, you’re taking a glimpse into how your gift sustained the livelihoods of many individuals and collectives that were greatly impacted by the global pandemic. This support assisted with food, housing, and resources that help artists, in a time of loss and sorrow,  create visions for a new future and nurture dreams for a better tomorrow.

In addition to our individual donors, Alternate ROOTS is generously supported by the following funding partners: Bloomberg Philanthropies, Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, Decolonizing Wealth Project, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Ford Foundation, Fund for Southern Communities, Windward Fund, McKnight Foundation, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Nathan Cummings Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, South Arts, Surdna Foundation, and United Philanthropy Forum.

Alternate ROOTS supports the creation and presentation of original art that is rooted in communities of place, tradition or spirit. We are a group of artists and cultural organizers based in the South creating a better world together. As Alternate ROOTS, we call for social and economic justice and are working to dismantle all forms of oppression—everywhere.