IMAN Hosts 1st Ever CommUNITY Café in Jackson, MS

For the first time ever, IMAN hosted its CommUNITY Café performance series in Jackson, Mississippi. CommUNITY Café: Truth, Healing & Transformation featured an intimate, “down in the Delta” blend of IMAN Roster Artists—including Jackson’s own Tawanna Shaunte and 5th Child. IMAN Roster artists Omar Offendum, Lula Saleh, Amir ‘Tubad’ Gray and host Preacher Moss—along with the captivating Kamilah Furqaan and Authentic Aseelah.

Hosted inside the Mississippi Museum of Art, the evening kicked off with a soulful “Café Hour” during which guests enjoyed small bites, conversation and soulful performances by jazz flutist & vocalist Kamilah Furqaan, poet & songstress Lula Saleh and trumpet & tuba player, Tubad & The Kings of New Orleans.

This Café was held in conjunction with the dynamic, Jackson-based International Museum of Muslim Cultures (IMMC), as part of their national conference which was centered around“Race, Class and Religious Intersectionality in America: An Ongoing Struggle For Human Dignity”. This incredible partnership helped to bring truth, healing and upliftment to the Jackson community, bridging a diverse and intergenerational audience through IMAN’s Arts and Culture programming. These uniquely curated engagements would not be possible without the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art and Pillars Fund, whose generous support helps further the work to reach, connect with and mobilize broader audiences through artistic expressions.

Keep up with the latest IMAN Arts & Culture updates by following #IMANArts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. CommUNITY Café is primed for an even more exciting 2019, and we hope to see you there!

Paint & Sip Power Hour Soothes ATL Community

IMAN Roster Artist and Sacred Cypher Creative Kelly Crosby recently led a “Paint & Sip” session for the Atlanta community as part of the Grassroots Power Hour series. In the spring, Crosby completed an artist residency rooted in the concept of “waging beauty”, and this past month’s gathering successfully introduced attendees to ways the can use artistic expression as a personal and collective healing tool.

Before starting to paint, community members reflected on and discussed the relationship between colors and emotions. Crosby encouraged guests to more intentionally choose their color palettes, and use that self-examining exercise to more authentically and safely access their feelings. The painting activity was themed “Envisioning Your Safe Haven” and, as strokes of blue, red, purple, yellow, and green blended across the canvases, each artist imagined, created, or recreated their ideal safe space.

Jayida Ché Herbal Tea Spot co-founder Aleathia Saleem helped the attendees tap further into their creative energies, serving several flavors of her carefully crafted tea. From the “Pure Peace” blend to “You Had Me At Rose”, each cup was filled with Jayida Ché’s signature mixture of tea leaves, roots, and flowers. Saleem stressed to the community members the nutritional benefits and soothing effects of ingredients like chamomile, lavender, ginseng, hibiscus, rose, and lemon balm.

With a canvas in one hand and a cup in the other, each community member then shared the reflections on their safe haven. Many had created vibrant images of nature landscapes and peaceful homes, but one Green ReEntry cohort member presented his version of the iconic ‘Thinking Man’ figure in a bold contrast of forest green and cobalt blue. “My safe space is not external, it is internal. My mind is my safe space,” he explained.

IMAN Atlanta thanks Kelly Crosby, Aleathia Saleem and all our Grassroots Power Hour attendees for bringing holistic healing to the community. Stay tuned for exciting updates on all the Fall events in Atlanta by following IMAN Atlanta on Facebook.

IMAN-Drafted ‘Path to Restoration Bill’ Signed into Law

After months of community engagement, grassroots outreach and advocacy trips to the state capitol, the IMAN-drafted Path to Restoration Bill was finally signed into law last month. This crucial legislation generated bipartisan support, and establishes several amendments promoting transparency within the Illinois registry system tracking individuals convicted of violent crimes against minors. Alongside the Removing Invisible Bars Bill–passed by IMAN organizers in 2016–the Path to Restoration Bill advances efforts to open pathways for returning citizens to positively contribute to their communities without fear of lingering surveillance and stigma.

The Path to Restoration Bill was born out of personal connections between our leaders, fellow community members, and IMAN organizers. As those most directly affected by the opaque, overly punitive Illinois registry system shared the obstacles they faced, Staff Attorney Aaron Siebert-Llera and Staff Organizer Nasir Blackwell took the lead in gathering support for the bill from the grassroots level to the state legislature. Several instructors and alumni of our Green ReEntry program stepped forward to tell their stories to the media and public officials alike.

The bill will go into effect in Illinois on January 1, 2019, giving residents the power to file a petition with the State’s Attorney’s Office in the county of their conviction. Such a petition could amend any erroneous information attributed to them on the registry, and/or have their names erased from the registry in the case of significant errors. IMAN organizers are currently developing an implementation and education strategy to help individuals navigate the newly amended state registry.

IMAN’s push to #FightFearBuildPower continues, and community-informed criminal justice reform remains at the forefront of our efforts. To learn more about this and other campaigns, please attend our weekly Grassroots Power Hours on Tuesday evenings, or email organize@imancentral.org for more information.