In Solidarity with Charleston

Alternate ROOTS stands in solidarity with the community of Charleston, SC in the wake of this act of terrorism committed against the African American community.

“It’s a tough one but it’s not unexpected in a culture like Charleston. This city is extremely oppressive, extremely provincial … the culture is very closed and will not accept people from the outside. And I think more and more people consider the black people not to belong here.”
– Jean-Marie Mauclet, ROOTS Member, Charleston, SC

Like the 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, we recognize this atrocity to be part of a historical legacy of racially motivated acts of terror waged in the name of white supremacy against those that stand for liberation and equity.

Our communities will not be intimidated. We will continue to use our imagination and creativity to manifest a world where peace and justice reign. Central to ROOTS’ core principles is that art rooted in communities of place, spirit, and tradition is vital to building movements that shift systems of oppression. We’ve spoken with several of our Charleston members today and they have only confirmed that as this tragedy unfolds, the people of Charleston are embodying this vision.

“My community is coming together. Today we saw black and white people standing [outside the Emanuel AME church] in 100 degree heat, praying and singing and clapping and rejoicing about life … It’s a very sad occasion, but also a very beautiful occasion watching Charleston become one unit maybe for the first time in its life … Rev. Clemente Pinckney was a historical speaker, he was a godly orator … When we were standing out there by the church, I thought about him being a captain of a ship and how you went down with your ship.”

La’Sheia Oubre, ROOTS Member, Charleston, SC

“It was good to see it [the crowd gathered at a Thursday morning service outside Emanuel AME Church] was as many white people as black people; it is not very often you see that here … A couple of months ago at NPN [National Performance Network] there was another ROOTS member who was saying that maybe we should forget about always talking about black and white and think more in terms of the global South. I went to him after, and I said: “I would love that, as an immigrant, but it is not the case in Charleston.“ I cannot forget the black and white issue in Charleston. It has to be acknowledged.”

Gwylene Gallimard, ROOTS Member, Charleston, SC

Alternate ROOTS is committed to standing in solidarity with Charleston, Baltimore, Ferguson, and all other communities that experience violent oppression of their people. We understand that we must manifest the change we wish to see in ourselves, in order to expect it from others.

“Let’s honor the lives of those lost in the church through prayerful action. For those who don’t pray … dig into that force that animates your existence … speak, think, reflect, and move in a way with community that goes to the essence and heart of our humanity … As artists and cultural workers, simply stated, this is what we do … Wherever you are, hold space, lift your people up, “U” people as in “US” people, and be the translocal change you want to see, and begin with the best tool in organizing, DEEP LISTENING. To your heart and humanity of self and others.”

Omari Fox, ROOTS Member

In the spirit of resilience and community building against oppression, the Charleston Learning Exchange,  ConNECKted: The Role of Art and Culture in Social Justice, will still be held this weekend at the International Longshoremen’s Association (1142 Morrison Drive), on Saturday June 20 and Sunday June 21 from 9 AM-5 PM. For more information or to register, write to or call (843) 607-5811.


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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.