The Grassroots Leadership & the Arts for Social Change Corner


Kent State From Woodstock to Kent State
4 November 2021

This month's Grassroots Leadership & the Arts for Social Change Corner shares stories from people who attended the 1969 Woodstock Music & Art Fair and who then witnessed or were directly impacted by the 1970 Kent State University shootings when the Ohio National Guard shot into a crowd of students, killing four. As a social movement history documentarian, Erenrich "uses the arts for social change to tell stories about transformational leadership, resilience, and societal shifts as a result of mobilization efforts by ordinary citizens."

Carolyn HesterBetween Thorns and Thistles in Bil’in
8 October 2021

In this month's Grassroots Leadership & the Arts for Social Change Corner, world-renowned muralist Francisco Letelier, whose work stresses collective action and participatory activity, "chronicles his travels and community-based art in the West Bank of Palestine. Francisco was part of a delegation of creatives who made the sojourn to the area for an arts residency." Corner editor Susie Erenrich introduces the piece.

Carolyn HesterWe Built a Fortress of Folk
30 June 2021

In this month's Grassroots Leadership & the Arts for Social Change Corner, editor Susie Erenrich interviews Carolyn Hester and her daughters. Hester was a trailblazer during the 1960s folk revival who sang with the Mississippi Caravan of Music - "a group of troubadour-allies who went South to help break the back of Jim Crow."

Hour GlassRace Against Time
30 June 2021

This issue of the Grassroots Leadership & the Arts for Social Change Corner, investigative reporter and MacArthur "Genius Grant" award-winner Jerry Mitchell shares memories from his book, Race Against Time: A Reporter Reopens the Unsolved Murder Cases of the Civil Rights Era. Jerry documents his decades-long pursuit of justice in this article with introduction by column editor Susan Erenrich.

Joe Jencks A Studio Session With Singer-Songwriter Joe Jencks
30 April 2021

This issue of the Grassroots Leadership & the Arts for Social Change Corner, singer-songwriter Joe Jencks and corner editor Susan J. Erenrich discuss Jencks' cultural activism, his relationship with Si Kahn and Pete Seeger, the current political landscape, and his work with veterans. Read this transcript of their talk and listen along on Susie's podcast to enjoy Joe's music.

Grassroots LeadershipThe Long Sixties: Washington Paintings, 1957 – 1982
25 March 2021

This issue of the Grassroots Leadership & the Arts for Social Change Corner features a column penned by Jack Rasmussen. Jack is the Director and Curator of American University’s Museum. His guest column, "The Long Sixties: Washington Paintings in the Watkins And Corcoran Legacy Collections, 1957 – 1982," highlights the museum’s commitment to political art as it relates to human rights, social justice, and political engagement and provides a virtual exhibition experience for the reader with its numerous illustrations.

Bill PerlmanInterview With Bill Perlman
18 February 2021

In this Grassroots Leadership and the Arts for Social Change Corner, read this engaging transcript of Corner editor Susan J. Erenrich's interview with Bill Perlman discussing his time as a guitarist with the SNCC Freedom Singers. As Susie shares, "In the early and mid-1960s, the SNCC Freedom Singers educated audiences through their lyrics about segregation in the South and the brutality committed against those who tried to dismantle the system. These men were soldiers in a domestic war. Music was their most powerful weapon." The interview also contains a link to an episode of Susie's radio show Wasn't That A Time featuring songs related to "Remembering SNCC Freedom Singers Matthew & Marshall Jones."

Grassroots ColumnGrassroots Leader Pete Seeger
14 January 2021

Magpie visits corner editor Susan J. Erenrich at her studio to discuss legendary singer-songwriter-folklorist-activist Pete Seeger. Magpie had a long-term personal and musical relationship with Seeger. Learn more about Seeger's environmental leadership and more in this Grassroots Leadership and the Arts for Social Change Corner with an introduction by Erenrich. In addition to the transcription of their interview, readers are invited to listed to the interview via the link to the show.

Jill StrachanConsensus Leadership in the Arts
10 December 2020

In this Grassroots Leadership and the Arts for Social Change Corner, Jill Strachan shares reflections on both the strengths and the challenges of the group-centered, consensus leadership model employed by The Lesbian and Gay Chorus of Washington, DC, where she was general manager, and the Capital Hill Arts Workshop, where she served as Executive Director. Corner editor Susan J. Erenrich pens the introduction.

Reggie HarrisReflecting Back
5 November 2020

In this Grassroots Leadership and the Arts for Social Change Corner, Dancer and Dance educator and historian, Naima Prevots reflects back on her work with the Henry Street Settlement House, the CAREL Arts and Humanities Curriculum Development Program for Young Children, Pearl Primus, and others through the lens of the arts for social change.

Eric SchmalzU.S. Newspapers and the Holocaust
2 October 2020

What did average Americans know about the Nazi persecution of Jews from 1933 to 1945? The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum initiated the museum's first nationwide citizen history project to find out. In this Grassroots Leadership and the Arts for Social Change Corner, USHMM's Eric Schmalz discusses the role students, including those in Corner editor Susan Erenrich's class at American University, played in answering this question, illustrating the ways students can genuinely make a difference while performing community service.

Reggie HarrisA Leader Among Leaders
19 August 2020

Grassroots Leadership and the Arts for Social Change Corner editor, Susie Erenrich, invited Reggie Harris on to her radio show to discuss his role teaching people, through stories and song, about the legacy of race and racism in the United States. Reggie is a teaching artist for the John F. Kennedy Center’s Changing Education Through the Arts program, a Woodrow Wilson Scholar, and the Director of Music Education for the Unitarian Universalist Living Legacy Project. Read the interview and listen to Reggie's music by following the link to the radio show within.

John FlynnThe Song I Didn't Play
30 June 2020

John Flynn, an American singer-songwriter and grassroots leader, writes a moving first-person narrative of his work with New Beginnings - Next Step, a nonprofit that helps incarcerated and returning citizens to successfully transition from prison to freedom in the U.S. This deeply reflective piece discusses mutuality and hope and the powerful experience of being present in each other's lives. The article is introduced by Grassroots and the Arts for Social Change corner editor Susan J. Erenrich.

Louder Than a BombLouder Than a Bomb: Poetry Slams and Community Activism Create a Powerful Brew
30 April 2020

This Grassroots Leadership & the Arts for Social Change column is penned by long-time troubadour of conscience Kristin Lems. In "Louder Than a Bomb: Poetry Slams and Community Activism Create a Powerful Brew," Kristin discusses the roots of Chicago's youth poetry slam, Chance the Rapper (a recent graduate of the Young Chicago writing workshops), and her experience as a judge at LTAB. The article is introduced by column editor Susan J. Erenrich.

Winter Summer InstituteWalk With Me: Decolonization and Reconciliation Through Participatory Theatre
26 March 2020

Learn about the work of a group of Indigenous and non-Indigenous people who collaborated to create a series of experiential educational events at Royal Roads University that began to address the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s calls to action. The article shares the context and the background theory behind their work and then takes you step by step through the practice of "Walk With Me."

Winter Summer InstituteThe Winter/Summer Institute in Applied Theatre: Creating With the Community
8 November 2019

Katt Lissard takes readers on a journey with The Winter/Summer Institute (WSI), an applied theatre project focused on social change, whose work began as a response to the devastating HIV/AIDS pandemic in sub-Saharan Africa. Lissard walks us through WSI's collaborative, community process demonstrating how process "is fundamental to art and to social change."

David EdelmanThe Form and Pressure of the Time: Artistry and Activism in the 1980s
30 September 2019

David Edelman shares the intertwining story of his artistry and LGBTQ activism in the 1980s. David is a Professor of Performing Arts Leadership and Management at Shenandoah Conservatory and the founder and co-editor of The American Journal of Arts Management. Be sure to read to the end of the article for David’s top ten pedagogical insights – based on his story – which have guided his teaching of graduate arts management students. 

Darlene CloverRoque Dalton: Revolutionary Poet of El Salvador
14 September 2019

Randal Joy Thompson discusses the work of revolutionary poet Roque Dalton. She touches on her own journey of moving and working in El Salvador and how she came to use Dalton's poems as a guide to understanding the country's history of violence and repression. Dalton lived and died for the revolution, believing that poetry could catalyze change and reveal the plight of those struggling to survive.The article is introduced by column editor Susan Erenrich.

Darlene CloverCultural Memory as Social Justice: The Critical Oral History Methodology
2 August 2019

Danita Mason-Hogans, Wesley Hogan, and Geri Augusto discuss the use of Critical Oral History as a methodology for uncovering the story of The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. The article also discusses the creation of the SNCC Digital Gateway and how the materials are being used to influence and inform social movements today.The article is introduced by column editor Susan Erenrich.

Darlene CloverDisobedient Women Exhibit
21 June 2019

Darlene Clover gives readers a behind-the-scenes exhibit she guest curated titled Disobedient Women: Defiance, Resilience, and Creativity Past and Present, an exhibit she describes as an aesthetic coming together of art, politics, and resistance. The article is introduced by column editor Susan Erenrich.

Jenin Freedom TheatreThe Freedom Theatre
30 May 2019

Jen Marlowe and Shaina Low cover an explosive topic that is usually discussed in an impassioned way — the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This isn’t an ordinary portrayal of the decades-long struggle in the region. Instead, it is a noteworthy glimpse into the innerworkings of The Freedom Theatre in Jenin and what it means to lead and create dangerously in occupied territory. The article is introduced by column editor Susan Erenrich.

Sisterfire singers at Smithsonian Folklife Festival in 2018Roadwork, 1978-2018
28 March 2019

Amy Horowitz, co-founder of Roadwork and the Sisterfire festival, discusses the powers and perils of coalition as she takes us "there and back again" from the founding of Roadwork to its 40th anniversary celebration as part of the 2018 Smithsonian Folklife Festival. Throughout the article she deftly moves between academic, music industry, and social justice arts networks. As you read this month's corner be sure to listen to the accompanying radio show by editor Susan Erenrich.

Swoon ProjectArtist as Activist & Leader
18 February 2019

In this month's corner, ILA member Anu Mitra compares and contrasts the fine art of two cultural activists — Swoon (née Caledonia Dance Curry) and Tomás Saraceno. She sheds light on how they “engage, provoke, incite, and agitate," and how, in the end, they "build jobs in communities, invoke respect among diverse groups of people, and nurture harmony in the natural order of things.”

Carolyn HesterAllies & Accompaniment
3 December 2018

Editor Susan Erenrich discusses the life of Carolyn Hester, ally of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement, in this month's corner. Hester, a folk singer, "accompanied the freedom struggle in vital ways." After a short intro by Erenrich, Hester shares some early childhood reflections that shaped her passion for the Movement. Be sure to stream Erenrich's radio show, celebrating Hester's 80th birthday, while you read.

Brigada Orlando Letelier , Washington, DC, 1977Overflowing Boundaries
6 November 2018

In this Grassroots Leadership & the Arts for Social Change Corner, globally known Chilean artist Francisco Letelier discusses the role visual arts play in cultural activism pertaining to ethical leadership, human rights, and social justice. Letelier adeptly brings in contemporary examples from Chile and the U.S. to examine public expression, museums, memory, and more.

Holly NearInterview With Holly Near
19 October 2018

Enjoy this three-part conversation with singer-songwriter and cultural activist Holly Near. Near has been a strong voice for integrity, justice, and peace for almost fifty years and is a chapter author in ILA’s Building Leadership Bridges book, Grassroots Leadership and the Arts for Social Change. The conversation is interspersed with songs that she recorded throughout her career.

People's Voice CafePeoples’ Voice Cafe
13 September 2018

In this month's column, Stephen Suffet takes readers behind the scenes at the Peoples' Voice Cafe, a unique “volunteer run, collectively governed” organization that "provides a platform for the artistic expression of a wide variety of humanitarian matters and concerns." Suffet discusses recent transitions such as the creation of a board of directors and their impact on the cafe's practice of horizontal leadership.

Kayhan Irani.jpgDeveloping Leadership Through Theatre in Afghanistan
9 August 2018

Emmy-award winning writer and cultural activist Kayhan Irani takes the reader into her work developing grassroots leaders in Afghanistan using Theatre of the Oppressed methods and practices, while weathering the larger structural forces: war, political upheaval, and economic strife. The article contains an interlude from Irani's project assistant and trainee Saleh Sepas, an Afghan theatre-maker and grassroots human rights activist turned refugee and refugee advocate.

ArielEmail.jpgDiversity, Inclusion & Representation in the Arts
26 July 2018

Read this month's Grassroots Leadership & the Arts for Social Change Corner featuring Ariel Shelton, a Program Manager for the Performing Arts for Everyone and Community Engagement team at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. The column delves into Shelton's past experience as an artist of color and the leadership role she now plays within the arts administration community

SusieEmail.jpgZilphia Horton: The Singing Heart of the Highlander Folk School
12 July 2018

In this month's Grassroots Leadership & the Arts for Social Change column, learn about "Zilphia Horton: The Singing Heart of the Highlander Folk School." Author and artist Candie Carawan shares interviews with key members of the school and highlights the role Zilphia played in the U.S. Civil Rights anthem, "We Shall Overcome." After reading the article, be sure to enjoy the hour-long podcast of music in tribute to Zilphia!

DavidEmail.jpgTeaching About Social Justice Within the Arts Leadership Context
26 April 2018

In this month's Grassroots Leadership & the Arts for Social Change Corner, David Edelman shares his experience successfully integrating ILA's Building Leadership Bridges book of the same name into his graduate performing arts management leadership class. Read his engaging (and funny) first person account of this endeavor and then enjoy the chapter he contributed to the book, "Acting Up & Fighting Back: How New York's Artistic Community Responded to AIDS."

dylansncc.jpgThe Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party: A Bottom-Up Leadership Model
30 March 2018

Grassroots Leadership & the Arts for Social Change corner editor Susie Erenrich sets the stage for Mike Miller's article, "The Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party Fifty + Years Later: Lessons for Today." Miller reflects on his work in Mississippi in 1963 digs into the leadership lessons applicable to community organizing and electoral politics today. Read the article and listen to the accompanying music from that era.

MagpieEmail.jpgEarly Horizontal Leadership Pioneers: Joe Hill, the IWW, & Fellow Workers
1 March 2018

This month's corner offers a rich multimedia experience of "Early Horizontal Leadership Pioneers." Read a short introduction; download, "They Were All Leaders: The IWW & Songs for Revolution," a chapter from Grassroots Leadership & the Arts for Social Change; and stream an episode of Wasn't That a Time, "Remembering Joe Hill, The IWW & Fellow Workers With Magpie," to hear and experience the songs that accompanied this social change movement.

SusieYoung.jpgThe Grassroots Leadership & the Arts for Social Change Corner
25 January 2018

The ILA is pleased to announce a new column for 2018, The Grassroots Leadership & the Arts for Social Change Corner, edited by Susan Erenrich. In this multimedia column, readers will vicariously experience the work of brave leader-artists, reflect on their commitments and achievements, and continue to dream a better world full of possibility all within the framework of grassroots, collective, collaborative, horizontal leadership.