This month, IMAN kicked off its 2015 Fresh Expressions series with ‘Legacy X’. February 21st marked the 50th year since the assassination of Malcolm X (El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz). To honor his legacy and continue to engage with Malcolm’s principles of self-efficacy, human equality and dignity, IMAN hosted several local artists known for messages of love and justice. Rappers Ahlei of the Kuumba Lynx collective and Inky each kicked rhymes about struggle and unity, while K-Love’s powerful poetry had the audience calling for (and getting) an encore. In between performances, Green ReEntry leader Rashid Grant reenacted the famous “Ballot or the Bullet” speech. Attendees also enjoyed healthy snacks, drinks and fresh sandwiches, as well as free giveaways like Malcolm X buttons and a mixtape of Malcolm’s speeches.
Fresh Expressions is a community-led, safe, creative and artistic space that provides a platform for local artists and offers residents of all ages the opportunity to have fun, learn, foster relationships and build power. Join us for the next Fresh Expressions on Thursday, March 26th from 6-8pm at the IMAN Youth & Arts Wellness Center!
On February 14, IMAN’s Health Clinic partnered with HEART Women & Girls to host an event supporting ‘V-Day’ – the international movement to raise awareness about violence against women and girls. Attendees had a lively discussion about factors that can lead to domestic violence, as well as ways to avoid problematic relationships with abusers. Sarah Hasan of HEART Women & Girls spoke about the importance of creating safe environments that allow people to speak about violence they may be experiencing. As the event ended, those in attendance committed to becoming supporters for survivors of violence in the community.
Continuing the work of bolstering community support, IMAN’s Behavioral Health Program has happily accepted two graduate student interns from the University of Chicago School of Service Administration. Sherylene Heah (‘16) and Hannah Zangwill (‘16) began their internships on January 13th, and will serve for the remainder of the academic year. They each have previous experience at the TCA Health Inc. clinic on Chicago’s South Side. Sherylene, a native of Malaysia, has previous medical social work experience in Singapore and is interested in chronic disease management. Hannah, originally from Georgia, has an interest in working with the aged. Sherylene and Hannah will spend two days a week at the Health Clinic, where they’ll be familiarized with behavioral health issues, receive clinical training, case management and cultural competency skills.
Over the past month, IMAN leaders have been busy activating voters across key parts of Chicago’s South Side. From phone banking to door knocking to distributing Early Voting reminders, IMAN’s Organizing team strove to engage community members in the crucial 2015 Chicago Municipal Elections. The ‘Fresh Expressions: Legacy X’ event carried the themes of citizen action, political education and using the vote to build power. Immediately after the event, IMAN leaders mobilized the audience to cast their ballots at a nearby Early Voting location. Despite low overall turnout for this week’s elections, IMAN will continue to urge the community to make their voices heard in the mayoral run-off on April 7th.
For the second year in a row, IMAN leaders and volunteers brought in the New Year by hosting a restaurant-style, MLK Commemorative Luncheon free of charge to local community members. Volunteer families served a delicious meal and hot drinks to local students, teachers, parents, workers and business owners, and encouraged diners to reflect upon and document possible solutions to issues facing our communities this year. Crescent Foods generously donated 24 halal chickens for the occasion and volunteer families prepared wholesome side dishes and desserts.
IMAN sees immense value in using the transformative spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy to color and inspire the work that it does throughout the year. We stand on the shoulders of so many dedicated families and institutions that have fought tirelessly to ensure that their community was afforded the dignity and quality standard of living that it deserved. Our nation is experiencing both turbulent and exciting times and we continue to ask for your prayers and support this year, as we expand our programming and discover new ways to build meaningfully with the people and communities around us. With your help, we hope to continue to inspire and transform lives and neighborhoods in 2015—in Chicago and across the world.