In conjunction with re:home—a For Freedoms exhibition + community action, which examines the plight of political and economic refugees in the San Francisco Bay Area through the broad societal crises of sanctuary city, homelessness, and the flight of the creative class—a For Freedoms Town Hall event took place in Minnesota Street Project’s Atrium on Saturday, December 15, 6-8pm. Moderated by Marc Bamuthi Joseph, spoken-word poet, dancer, playwright, and Vice President and Artistic Director of Social Impact at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. (previously the Chief of Program and Pedagogy at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts), key speakers include Katie Annand, Esq., Managing Attorney, San Francisco, Kids in Need of Defense (KIND); Doniece Sandoval, Founder and CEO of Lava Mae; Taylor D. Duckett, author, songwriter, educator, spoken word artist, and Founder and Creative Director of Conviction 2 Change publishing; Terence Lester, Founder of Love Beyond Walls + The Dignity Museum; artists and activists Thi Bui, Rodney Ewing, Ana Teresa Fernández, Alison OK Frost, and Jasko Begović; Deborah Rappaport, Co-Founder of Minnesota Street Project; Sharon Maidenberg, Executive Director of Headlands Center for the Arts; and Owen Levin from Community Arts Stabilization Trust (CAST).
The Town Hall began with a reading by students from Oakland International High School (OIHS) in the book I AM HOME: Portraits of Immigrant Teenagers—featuring photographs by Ericka McConnell, edited by Rachel Neumann, and with a foreword by artist + author Thi Bui (published by Parallax Press). Released September 11, 2018, the book connects us to the faces and voices behind the conversations around immigration, with portraits accompanied by each student's own unique, diverse, and surprising stories of what makes them feel at home. All profits from the publication go to OIHS—which targets a population of students, newly-arrived immigrants, who have historically been underserved nationally, in California, and in Oakland. It opened in August 2007 with the support of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, The Internationals Network for Public Schools, and Oakland Unified School District.