Ceramics Heal during Ramadan

During the soul-soothing days of Ramadan, IMAN’s resident art instructors hosted a special weeklong class called “Illuminations: Fasting & Ceramic Art” inside the Beloved Community Studio. The intimate seminar explored the spiritual benefits of fasting across various spiritual and cultural traditions, while teaching basic ceramics techniques like molding, painting, glazing and positive/negative space.

The ‘Illuminations’ class was led by Mariana Lopez—a healing practitioner and soon-to-be licensed art therapist—and Khalid Partee—the current Green ReEntry instructor who discovered the restorative power of ceramics while incarcerated. They curated a rejuvenating safe space for dozens of residents from some of Chicago’s most vulnerable communities, helping each student tap into their creative potential and produce incredible pieces of art.

In the coming months, we hope to further transform the Ceramic Arts Studio into the first full-time facility of its kind in the larger Marquette Park area. This project is poised to affect over 750 individuals through a multitude of projects, classes and unique workshops. Be sure to follow IMAN on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to check out some of the beautiful artwork coming out of the studio!

MLK Day Efforts Galvanize Communities in Chicago & ATL

This MLK Day, IMAN presented its first two-city event, Fighting Fear/Building Power: Renewing the Call for a Beloved Community. Over 1,000 attendees gathered, forging new connections with one another and enjoying inspirational artistic performances. Appearances by Talib Kweli and Ilyasah Al Shabazz in Atlanta, and Jay Electronica in Chicago, helped rally the crowds. Newark, New Jersey and Los Angeles, California also hosted “Sister City Gatherings”, where allies live-streamed the events and engaged each other around ways to implement the call for justice. IMAN thanks Lead Sponsor, Marguerite Casey Foundation, and Supporting Sponsor, Zakat Foundation of America, for helping make Fighting Fear/Building Power possible.

The climax of Fighting Fear/Building Power came as dozens of community organizations (over 50 alone in Chicago) united onstage to pledge their mutual support, solidarity and their re-commitment to the vision of Beloved Community that Dr. King put forth over 50 years ago. Particularly in Atlanta, this strong showing of broad-based allegiance served as public notice of IMAN’s deepening impact in the area. With capacity crowds in both cities also standing and making their pledge, coalitions were strengthened and spirits were lifted as we enter a new moment in our nation’s history.

That morning was brightened by heartening displays of solidarity, generosity and hope. In Marquette Park, IMAN hosted its Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Luncheon for over 100 local residents. Guests enjoyed catered meals, opportunities for insightful discussion on the growing relevance of King’s vision for urban communities, and were presented with gift bags prepared by dozens of volunteers and longtime supporters.

We are grateful to the United Congress of Community and Religious Organizations (UCCRO) and Equal Voice Network Chicago for co-convening such an inspirational event. Thank you to all guests and viewers who helped the #FightFearBuildPower hashtag trend on Twitter!

Join the thousands nationwide who’ve decided to double down on the work of inclusion and solidarity, and sign the #FightFearBuildPower Pledge today!

#Streets2016 Festival Reimagines Marquette Park

STREETS2016-53This year’s Takin’ It to the Streets festival gathered an extraordinary lineup of artists across genres and generations to provide the soundtrack for the continued Journey to Justice. First-time meetings, like that of Imam Zaid Shakir and hip-hop legend Rakim, highlighted the unique power of ‘Streets to forge bonds across differences based on a shared vision for more just, empowering community life.

The organic connection between art and activism was on full display in Marquette Park that day, as native Chicagoan and rising star Vic Mensa performed “16 Shots”, his high-energy commentary on the Laquan McDonald shooting, in the same police district where the teen was gunned down in 2014. Ms. Ilyasah Al-Shabazz, the daughter of Malcolm X, shared the stage with international pop star Yuna, rapper Brother Ali, and other talented artists and driven activists sharing their gifts and talents.

14067825_1431563090203666_5291502542206933180_o#Streets2016 was a profoundly inclusive space that represented a broad spectrum of people of all faiths, ethnicities and backgrounds. Thousands of attendees supported local businesses and artists inside the International Bazaar and at the Community Stage. Guests of all ages were inspired by the hip-hop elements and the youthful energy of the 1 LUV Family Pavilion, which included a graffiti battle highlighting the legacy of Muhammad Ali, a backpack giveaway, free haircuts and carnival rides.

Without the sweat equity of nearly 300 volunteers and the incredible commitment of the Steering Committee, #Streets2016 would not have been possible. While organizing a nationally recognized and celebrated festival, they also became deeply invested in the myriad of issues that marginalized communities face.

13920047_1398328343526929_7215458737418003622_oThanks to the artists, activists, IMAN staff, leaders, volunteers and thousands of guests, Marquette Park’s legacy added a new chapter, reimagining the narrative of a community all too often associated with conflict, and demonstrating the transformative potential of Chicago, the nation and the world.

#Streets2016 Generates Unprecedented Media Coverage

The success of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Living Memorial and #Streets2016 garnered extraordinary media coverage across the city and country.Screen Shot 2016-08-01 at 11.16.59 AM

Throughout the MLK Living Memorial development process—from the initial planning, to the ground breaking, and eventually to the ribbon cutting—TV cameras and newspaper reporters captured the project’s growth into a new cornerstone of the Marquette Park community. On August 5 alone, nearly one million Chicagoland viewers tuned into coverage of the Memorial’s unveiling and the following commemorative ceremony.

The next day, #Streets2016 kicked off with the symbolic 1,000 Mile March. Each of Chicago’s local TV news networks featured segments on the day’s events, with detailed feature stories on the web and in print. Via this comprehensive media coverage, over a half million people witnessed the events of this historic day. Social media yielded even greater engagement. The memorial, march and festival were all featured on Snapchat’s “Chicago” story that weekend, and the #Streets2016 hashtag trended on Twitter for several hours. In all, these IMAN-led efforts made over 6 million impressions across all social media platforms.

Screen Shot 2016-08-15 at 4.42.00 PMMarquette Park’s narrative legacy has endured the stains of decades-long segregation and racial discrimination. However, through these powerful efforts of a community united on the journey to justice, the story of Marquette Park is forever changed. The “world as it could be” was on full display during the August 5 weekend, as individuals, families and organizations celebrated their achievements, connected various campaigns and radically reimagined the state of their communities.

Perhaps even more powerful than the breadth of coverage the weekend received is the fact that this nationwide buzz grew organically out of a proactive series of community organizing efforts led by American Muslims and embraced by all. Like all aspects of its work, IMAN hopes that the MLK Living Memorial, the 1000 Mile March, and #Streets2016 festival will serve as models for holistic, collaborative, and positive change for other urban communities across the country.