Attending Community Conversations for Off the Wall: Atlanta’s Civil Rights & Social Justice Journey

Community Conversations for Off the Wall will uplift the experiences, stories, and priorities of Atlanta’s civil rights past, present, and future- -shining a spotlight on the incredible civil rights organizing happening today. Informed by the content from these discussions, artists will design permanent murals that will be produced and unveiled while the world has its eyes on Atlanta during the 2019 Super Bowl.

Community Conversations are the anchor of this project. It ensures that this is not just a ‘mural project’, but a movement that elevates dialogue around the hard yet important questions we need to ask ourselves about injustice in Atlanta, and our country today.

All community conversations will focus on discussing civil rights, human rights, and social justice. Topics can include general practices of inclusivity or speci c social injustices experienced by certain demographics. In the context of Off the Wall, WonderRoot believes that individuals participate in myriad communities. Communities take many different forms and expressions based on identity, geography, and affinity. Conversations will speak to issues related to the black liberation movement, race, women’s rights, LGBTQ issues, immigrant and refugee rights, workers’ rights, rights of the differently abled, and all other civil rights issues visible in our communities. We have nearly 40 Community Partners signed on to host their own Community Conversations that will inform the content of the Off the Wall murals. 

This has definitely been my favorite part of the project. I love having these empowering and informational conversations around the collective struggle our city is facing today. I also love learning about the amazing work that these groups do daily!

The first portion of my internship was researching who we would invite to host these important community conversations. We looked at this through three different lenses:

The first lens was identifying what organizations were doing explicit civil rights and social justice organizing in the city. An example partner would be SisterLove, Inc., the oldest women-centered HIV and sexual & reproductive justice advocacy organization in the Southeastern United States.

The second lens was identifying groups that didn’t necessarily have an explicit civil rights and social justice platform; however, the work they do is grounded in serving the communities that they reside in and they are passionate about. An example partner would be Presencia, a tutoring, mentoring and leadership development for the children of immigrants in Atlanta’s Buford Highway Corridor which is an area of Atlanta with a large immigrant population.

Lastly, we identified groups that, again, did not have explicit civil rights and social justice organizing; however, they have place-based context to the city of Atlanta. This would be us reaching out to groups like the AUC. The Atlanta University Center Consortium is the largest contiguous consortium of African Americans in higher education in the United States. The center consists of four historically black colleges and universities in southwest Atlanta, Georgia. The AUC continues to preserve black culture as well as educate and support black leaders in the city and beyond.

We give every group a Facilitation Guide. Created by Carlton D. Mackey and Karcheik Sims Alvarado, this guide offers four questions that helps organizations frame the conversation around justice and equity for all. While this guide provides broad groundwork information on how to host this dialogue, the groups is empowered to frame the conversation that most authentically elevates the experiences and stories of the stakeholders that they reach.

The standard for each conversation is that at least one Off the Wall artist is in attendance (as these conversations directly inform their mural designs), one WonderRoot representative, and a facilitator for the conversation. Each party has to turn in a conversation summary on what was discussed during the meeting for our archives.

I have attended two so far as the WonderRoot representative, and it has been an awesome experience learning about what people in my city care about and the ways they believe will make Atlanta equitable for all.

The last ones that I will be able to attend will be a great learning experience for me to learn about different facets of the social justice organizing that is happening today.

I will be attending Covenant House and Gateway Center, two groups that will discuss different facets of homelessness in the city. This is something I have been interested in for a while. With the growth of Atlanta, I want to learn more about housing justice here in the city, especially because of the rapid displacement and gentrification happening.

I will also be attending Partnership Against Domestic Violence. They will be discussing the battered women’s movement in Georgia. I am excited to learn about this movement’s role, especially in the broader conversation around Human Rights.

 

To learn more about any of these partners, as well as see the full list of partners for the project, please visit:

https://www.offthewallatl.org/community-partners/

https://www.sisterlove.org

https://presenciaatl.org

https://www.covenanthouse.org

If you would like to see the Facilitation Guide that these conversations are framed around, please visit:

https://www.offthewallatl.org/facilitation-guide/

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