By Carlton Turner, Alternate ROOTS Executive Director (Utica, MS)
“Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”
This quote has been on my mind today as I think about the uprising that is happening in Baltimore. Alternate ROOTS has strong ties to the city. We have many members in the area — vibrant, committed, extraordinary artists and cultural organizers who love their community deeply; dear friends and collaborators who have been in our hearts and minds throughout this week. One of those members and artists, Ashley Minner, told us today:
“We Baltimoreans love this city way down in our souls. We can’t even explain who we are without telling you about this place we’re from. Our people are coming together to demand justice, to begin to heal, and to rebuild with that great love.”
Over the past several years, Alternate ROOTS has witnessed Baltimoreans’ great love for their city first-hand. In 2011, we celebrated our 35th anniversary by co-producing ROOTSFest with West Baltimore’s CultureWorks. Through arts and culture, ROOTSFest brought 11,000 West Baltimoreans together near The Highway to Nowhere — a 1.4 mile dead-end expressway whose failed construction dislocated thousands of African American community members. This past October, ROOTS co-presented a town hall meeting with local organizers at the historic Arch Social Club to discuss the outcomes of ROOTSFest and strategize for the future.
I know the resilience of this city and it’s people. I understand the determination and anger that is fueling their actions — it runs deep in the history of this country and our people. Alternate ROOTS stands in solidarity with the organizers, artists, and everyday people that are walking tall in their dignity and determining their own self worth. We value your lives and will work alongside you to support the work that needs to be done to build stronger together.
Alternate ROOTS is organizing a ROOTS Lounge conference call to discuss the Baltimore uprising and others like it, and to begin to strategize about how we can support our members engaged in the #BlackLivesMatter Movement. An email with date, time, and call-in information will be sent out soon.