ROOTS’ new Executive Director, Michelle Ramos, announces the ROOTS Road Trip!

Porch circle at ROOTS Week 2017. Photo: Melisa Cardona.

Dear ROOTers,

I am so excited to spend some time to get to know you! I started as Executive Director on January 15th, MLK day, which was not planned, but incredibly meaningful to me. I have spent the past few weeks reading, listening, and learning as much as my brain can hold – some days I run out of room! I have met with several ROOTS elders and have dozens of upcoming meetings scheduled. I spent several days with Carlton in Mississippi and here in New Orleans, combed through literally hundreds of documents, and next week will sit with folders of archives going back to the founding days of ROOTS over 40 years ago. I am awed and humbled by the generosity of each and every person I have spent time with and reached out to since my first day in this role.

I have always believed that to really know a people, and a culture, you need to meet folks where they are – in their communities, in their neighborhoods, on the front porch. One thing you may not know about me is that although I have spent a great deal of my life on stage as a dancer, in a courtroom as a lawyer, or in city hall as an advocate, the spotlight for me is not my preferred and most comfortable place. As an only child of a single mom, I grew up as a quiet introvert who shied away from any attention I received. So even now, I prefer sitting and breaking bread, sharing stories, and connecting with people, places, and cultures to learn and grow as much as I can during my time on this planet. And moving into my role at ROOTS, I think it is important to hear and learn from all of you who care deeply about ROOTS, its history, and its future. So, I am happy to announce that I will be packing my bags and hitting the road!

Over the next several months, the ROOTS team and I will be embarking on a ROOTS Road Trip. At this time of transition, and in connection with the Renew Your ROOTS initiative, we want to ground ourselves in the heart and soul of this organization – you, our members. Our goals are to meet you in your communities, learn from you, listen to you, and understand what is important to you as we move into the next iteration of Alternate ROOTS. I hope you are as excited as I am for this journey we are about to embark on together – to nourish ROOTS’ vision, values, and culture, in preparation for what is ahead. What is ahead, you ask?

Well…that is up to us! Come let us know what you see ahead – help us build a collective vision of ROOTS’ future. If you’d like your community to be a stop on the Road Trip, please let me know at I can’t wait to meet you!

Michelle Ramos
Executive Director, Alternate ROOTS

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.