The Fierce Urgency of Now: Weathering this Moment, Continuing on the Path

We’re leaning into the strength of our community during this uncertain time.
Photo: Melisa Cardona.


Michelle Ramos, Alternate ROOTS Executive Director | April 23, 2020


Dear ROOTS Members, Partners, & Friends,

Little did we know when we selected the 2020 ROOTS year theme, “The Fierce Urgency of Now,” would we be embarking on the year that has unfolded before us. While we are all being impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, we are not all impacted in the same way. The racial, economic, and gendered impacts of COVID-19 are reflecting long standing oppressions we have seen before and continue to fight against. At the same time, the community organizers, culture bearers, and artist-activists who are part of the Alternate ROOTS network make it abundantly clear that we have the leadership, team, community, and creativity we need to weather this moment and continue on the path toward a just future for artist activists in the South.

We launched the Solidarity Fund on March 23rd to do just this, and continue to raise funds for long term support for our artists, knowing we are in mile one of this marathon. Additionally, in March, we immediately rallied to move all pending and future funding to our grantee partners in the face of COVID-19, so they could have money in hand as soon as possible. We created a resource page on our website with funding and care resources specific to our communities.

We have also been working behind the scenes with Performing Arts Alliance and the Cultural Advocacy Group to ensure the inclusion of our workforce in the direct cash payments and expanded unemployment insurance available in the federal government’s aid packages recently passed by Congress. We have stood strong with our other partners working with Black, Indigenous, people of color, southern, and rural communities to ensure that unjust funding practices of the past during times of crisis will not be tolerated this time around, reminding folks that now is the time to reflect your equitable values as philanthropists by showing how monies are being allocated and to whom.

As a staff, we are checking in on each other and our needs, taking health and wellness days, and working to ensure our part-time staff, many of whom are artists, have what they need during this time. Most importantly, we have been holding a weekly space with our members with Porch Sittin’ – on both Mondays and Fridays – because we know that our call for the past 44 years is most centrally about community, about coming together in love and support, and about being in a space collectively (even virtually!). As ROOTers, we know this is what most feeds our souls.

I am sending strength, health, and love to everyone during this unimaginable time. Please be in touch with us, we are listening and we are with you.

In solidarity,


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.