IMAN hosted its second CommUNITY Café of the year on March 30th at Chicago’s Harold Washington Cultural Center. Over 400 attendees enjoyed CommUNITY Café: Celebrating the Sacred Cypher, a night filled with healing, spiritual unity and diverse and unforgettable artistic expressions. CommUNITY Cafés are intentionally intersectional gatherings that bring artists, organizers and other community members together. This most recent Café took on global significance in light of the tragic events in New Zealand and Mali.
The evening began with a lively Café Hour with several local vendors and a special “beat making station” sponsored by Solidarity Studios. Guests enjoyed several performances by nationally renowned artists with deep connections to IMAN’s work. Grammy-nominated songstress (and IMAN Roster Artist) Maimouna Youssef headlined the evening with her powerful vocals and unique blend of hip-hop, R&B and tribal sounds. Zeshan B–who recently performed on Late Night with Stephen Colbert– moved the crowd with soulful ballads including “Cryin’ In the Streets” and K Love the Poet rounded out the evening with inspiring spoken word performances rooted in healing. Grandmother Walks on Water–Maimouna Youssef’s mother–wove traditional indigenous vocals into her chilling performance, and the audience was asked to reflect on the equally disheartened violence happening on local streets.
During the evening, IMAN formally announced the Sevyn Ward Trust, a special fund intended to support a strong future for the daughter of slain Green ReEntry cohort member Steven Ward. Chicago’s Mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot also took the stage Saturday evening in a gesture of spiritual solidarity, making a commitment to help fight the destructive forces that pit communities against one another, and to allowing us to hold her and her office accountable to working with us to form equitable solutions to some of Chicago’s toughest social justice challenges.
This incredible event would not have been possible without the generous support of our partners at: The Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, Pillars Fund, and Lyft who provided complimentary rides to and from the venue. We were honored to have such a beautiful crowd in place as we both mourned and uplifted the lives of those lost in New Zealand, Chicago, and around the world in senseless violence.
Stay connected to IMAN’s Arts & Culture work by following #IMANArts on Twitter and Instagram. To get involved, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
For the third consecutive year, IMAN mobilized dozens of organizers and leaders at the Georgia State Capitol for Justice Day. Throughout the day, IMAN leaders and Green ReEntry cohort members shared their firsthand experiences navigating the criminal justice system. Their narratives—and those of their mothers, children and other family members—highlighting incarceration’s layered impacts spurred deep interest from local legislators.
We also joined our partners at New Georgia Project, which works to increase voter turnout and protect voting rights, and RestoreHER—an organization fighting to protect the dignity of incarcerated women and support their transitions back home—at the Capitol to strengthen a collective platform advocating for our united interests. RestoreHER founder Pamela Winn shared her harrowing experience being shackled while pregnant to illustrate the constant violence faced by incarcerated women. Ms. Winn’s powerful testimony inspired bipartisan support, and IMAN Atlanta organizers joined her advocacy for House Bill 345. The bill recently passed through the Georgia Senate and House of Representatives, and will prohibit the shackling of pregnant imprisoned women once it is signed into law.
Just days after the horrendous attacks on the Muslim community in New Zealand, IMAN Atlanta returned to the Capitol for Muslim Advocacy Day to continue advocating for communities negatively impacted by inequitable legislation. Staff, leaders and Green ReEntry participants stood alongside community partners from Georgia Justice Project, CAIR Georgia, and Muslim Women’s Professional Network. Organizing Fellow Amirah Kahera spoke on the importance of maintaining unity in spite of adversity, and invited Muslim Advocacy Day participants to engage more deeply with IMAN’s larger #FightFearBuildPower efforts.
IMAN Atlanta also recently hosted its annual Community Organizing Training, which introduced a diverse group of emerging leaders to our organizing principles and strategies. During this intensive two-day training, attendees reflected on the vital connections between intergenerational and interfaith leadership, and learned core skills needed to facilitate relational meetings. Those leading the training also drew connections between prophetic example and that of past civil rights leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King and Malcolm X to demonstrate effective coalition building. After completing the training, participants were invited to continue honing their community organizing skills at IMAN Atlanta’s weekly Grassroots Power Hours.
To learn more and get involved with IMAN Atlanta’s organizing efforts, please contact email@example.com
IMAN launched the new Fresh Market Stand initiative in early-March, adding another layer to our longstanding Food Ecosystems work in the Englewood and Chicago Lawn neighborhoods. Every Friday at 2 pm, visitors to IMAN’s Youth & Arts Wellness Center may purchase fresh fruits and vegetables, engage with health and wellness specialists, and receive helpful nutrition information. During the off-season of our weekly farmers market, the Fresh Market Stand will help meet the community need and demand for affordable fresh produce. In the first month alone, 420 lbs of produce were purchased at the Fresh Market Stand.
The Fresh Market Stand plays a key role in IMAN’s larger vision of cultivating community wellness through increased access to nutritious food options. Reinforcing the cooperative, sustainable spirit of our Food Ecosystems efforts, the Fresh Market Stand is also an opportunity for Corner Store Campaign partners to buy produce in bulk. Using a cooperative buying model, five partner stores have purchased a total of 280 lbs of produce since March 2019. In addition to reducing waste, this unique business arrangement makes fresh fruits and vegetables even more accessible to local individuals and families.
Our Fresh Market Stand will be open every Friday afternoon through the month of June. Another pillar of IMAN’s Food Ecosystems work–our weekly Farmers Market–will return on Friday, July 12th. For additional information about IMAN’s food justice organizing, and to get involved with any of these exciting campaigns, please contact Food Ecosystems Coordinator Eric Rodriguez at firstname.lastname@example.org.