September 25 Member News

Michelle Ramos at ROOTS Week 2019. Photo: Melisa Cardona


In This Issue:

Gratitude to Michelle & News of What’s Ahead

Dear Community,

Last week we made the announcement of Michelle Ramos’s departure from her Executive Director position at Alternate ROOTS. In her five years as Alternate ROOTS’ Executive Director, Michelle led us to unprecedented financial stability, championed staff wellness, and directed transformative initiatives within our organization and in the field.

In this time of leadership transition we are strengthened by our nearly 50 years of being changemakers in the field of art, culture, and justice. Creating change is what we do as justice-loving artists and organizers, and this is a time of change. We are moving forward with confidence and clarity, drawing from the wisdom, creativity, and support of our community.

If you haven’t already, please read the full organizational statement honoring Michelle’s many accomplishments as ROOTS’ Executive Director and detailing our leadership transition plans.

With Gratitude,

Alternate ROOTS Executive Committee Officers:

April C. Turner, Chair
Ace McColl, President
Sacil Armstrong, Secretary
Priscilla Smith, Treasurer


Artistic Assistance Deadline – Friday September 29 

Time’s ticking! Just a quick heads-up that the Artistic Assistance application deadline is around the corner. If you’ve been considering applying – now is the time.

Deadline Friday, September 29, 2023 – 5 PM ET

Check out the eligibility requirements here.

Don’t let this chance slip by! Mark that calendar, gather your thoughts, and hit that submit button!


Embracing Change: Introducing ROOTS Weekend Rhizomes 

Feature Image:  Graphic from Deisha

In light of our recent announcement regarding the cancellation of ROOTS Weekend: Harlan County AND in response to your requests for more time to engage in meaningful conversations following ROOTS Week, we’ve decided to pivot our plans.

So, what are we doing instead? We’re deconstructing our standard ROOTS Weekend gathering and introducing something that we hope will foster deep connections, conversation, and creativity within our community. Say hello to ROOTS Weekend Rhizomes: one-day, hyperlocal gatherings, each with its own unique flavor. Learn more here.

To keep our community as safe as possible, these will be members-only events and we won’t be making any further public announcements about these gatherings. We’ll share the dates and times discreetly on our statewide google listservs and through text message.

If you have any questions or need more information, don’t hesitate to reach out to our Cultural Organizing team. We’re here to assist you every step of the way, the best way to reach us is


FamILI Dinner: ILI’s COVID Relief Impact with Alison McNeil

When: Wednesday, Oct 4, 6-8pm
Get Tickets Here
Limited amount of FREE tickets for ROOTS members, use the code: FamILI_ROOTS

Join host Alison McNeil, Founder & Chief Creative Officer of McNeil Creative Enterprises and ILI Year 4 Fellow for this FamILI Dinner.

In the midst of the global pandemic, arts leaders around the United States quickly rallied to design processes that could facilitate a swift dissemination of emergency funding to artists and arts organizations. While many of the standard application procedures and fund administration efforts for these funding programs weren’t as stringent as standard philanthropic practices, the Intercultural Leadership Institute (ILI) leaders sat on many of the grant panels for the aforementioned efforts and observed how the artists, culture bearers, arts practitioners and change makers within the ILI community were largely being excluded from funding opportunities.

The ILI leaders were determined to ensure that their communities were not excluded in the emergency relief efforts. They organized and advocated for ILI to act as a re-granting organization disseminating $5M to meet the needs of their communities (e.g., the artists, culture bearers, cultural organizers that have been historically excluded and overlooked) in a way that honored and centered grantmaking practices rooted in community.

Come out to the October ILI Family Dinner and hear about how ILI did it and the impact that it had on the ILI community. We will also talk about the benefits of participatory action research.


Member News

Member: doris davenport
What: Online reading, from the newly released international anthology, 100 Thousand Poets for Change: 10+ Years of Poetic Activism (A Collective Memory)
When: Event Recording available here:

doris davenport has an essay, and will participate in an online reading, from the newly released international anthology, 100 Thousand Poets for Change: 10+ Years of Poetic Activism (A Collective Memory). (available here:

Member: doris davenport
What: Discussion and Celebration Black Lesbian Publishing in the 70s, 80s, and 90s.
When: October 3, 2023, at 7PM ET
Where: Register for the event online here: ; Password: BL Pub

Sinister Wisdom continues the exploration of the Women in Print Movement, a fertile period of print culture production in the United States between 1970 and 2000, with a riveting discussion of independent literary publishing by extraordinary Black lesbian writers and thinkers. All women on the panel published early work independently through their own publishing ventures–and many continue the work today. Scholar of Black lesbian thought Briona Simone Jones moderates the panel. Join Sinister Wisdom for a lively evening to discuss and celebrate Black Lesbian Publishing in the 70s, 80s, and 90s.

Member: Assane Kouyaté – @kouyatejeli and
What: 2023 Sabar Rek Atlanta Conference & Cultural Event
When: Friday, October 6 – Sunday, October 8, 2023
Where: In-Person at City Dance/Atlanta Dance & Music Academy
524 Plasters Ave NE
Atlanta, GA 30324

Conference kick-off is Fri October 6, 2023 at 4PM EST for ROOTS members and extends till October 8, 2023 ending at 7:30pm with fifteen (15) opportunities to dance/drum and engage in a small and intimate late-night community gathering on Sat October, 7 – SUPPER & SABAR – a tanebeer of Taste-West African cuisine, Fashion-a mini Nuit du Bazin showcase and Music/DJ-traditional and popular Senegalese mbalax beats –

Senegal / the Senegambia region has a rich dance and musical heritage. This event uncovers traditions exclusive to Wolof and Serer heritage and diverse ethnic groups. It is an educational and cultural arts experience bringing diverse individuals together and centers around sabar – the dance style and family of drums played with one hand and a stick.

All workshop sessions on Friday October 6 are FREE and open to all ROOTS members. Asking that members arrive at 4:00pm for introductions, general overview, followed by a drum session at 5:00pm and two dance sessions at 6:15pm and 8:00pm respectively. Light refreshments provided. Members interested in attending sessions on Saturday October 7 & Sunday October 8 can obtain tickets at the discounted rate of $13 each. Traffic on Friday afternoon is the norm, so be prepared to leave 15-20 minutes earlier to get there.

Member: Patrick Duncan
What: The Original Collard Greens Cultural Festival
When: October 7  from 12 pm – 8 pm, in person
Where: The Promised Land
4540 Lee Road SW
Snellville, GA 30039

The Original Collard Greens Cultural Festival celebrates African American culture and teaches the importance of eating healthier foods especially greens.

For more information visit: @patricksduncan on Instagram and Threads
Facebook and LinkedIn, Patrick Duncan


———————————Get Involved, Get Connected


Membership Work Group

The ROOTS Membership Work Group works closely with the Membership team to help review current practices and develop new initiatives for the ROOTS membership body. This Work Group is being reactivated to dive deep into how we “do” membership, in response to ideas, concerns, and questions raised by many members.

If you are interested in joining this Work Group or want to learn more about what’s going on with all things ROOTS Membership, join the next call! All members are welcome! Please register at the links below:

———-Thursday, October 5, 6:30 pm ET
———-Register HERE

Membership Team Office Hours

The Membership Team is holding office hours every Tuesday and Thursday! During office hours, the Membership team can be reached by phone to answer any questions and assist with any membership matters.

Membership Team Office Hours:
Tuesday & Thursday: 11am – 2pm ET
(404) 577-1079 EXT. 302

Questions? Reach out to

From ExComm

The new slate of the Executive Committee will be meeting virtually and in person during the month of September to receive their orientation. The regular monthly meetings will resume in October and the dates/times will be announced in the next Member News.


————————————–Opportunities in the Field


First Peoples Fund is growing – the organization is on the lookout for exceptional people whose values, commitment, and career aspirations align with our noble mission.

At First Peoples Fund, we honor and support the Collective Spirit® of First Peoples artists and culture bearers – that which moves each of us to stand up and make a difference, to pass on ancestral knowledge and extend a hand of generosity. By supporting artists and culture bearers, First Peoples Fund helps Native communities heal and thrive. Collectively, we approach our work with rootedness, intuition, listening, humility and deep relationships.

Learn more and share our current career opportunities

Associate Director of Development

Program Manager, Fellowships

Program Manager, Performing Arts 

Program Assistant, Oglala Lakota Artspace

Program Manager, Oglala Lakota Artspace


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.