We did it! 394individuals virtually gathered over 4 days togrow, strategize, nourish, and ultimately work tocreate sustainable impact for our field.
Planning this year was tough, not knowing what folks would need or want in the middle of a pandemic, while also navigating the fight for Black lives and the buildup of fear around the upcoming election. There were so many unknowns we were juggling, and our team worked really hard to ground ourselves and the spaces we curated in our Bridge values: equity, belonging, leadership, nourishing, change, innovation, community.
As we push for change, being a POC leaderoften means being able to adhere to white culture norms and also being able to authentically engage with our staff and partners, many of whom hold a very high expectation of what it means to lead for equity and justice. How do I acknowledge that once I move into a leadership role, the relationships I had with peers now have power dynamics standing between us? There’s a lot of tension in the in-between, in being both a friend and a leader, and I’ve found myself re-evaluating my preconceptions of what it means to be a leader within the context of relationships.
What is belonging and why do we often feel so far from it? Why are we telling ourselves that we don’t belong or that we are not wanted in a space when there is no evidence that that is remotely the case?
Through her own story which builds upon the power of intergenerational relationships, experiences with the juvenile justice system, and artistic talents that come to life as a theater artist, filmmaker, musician, and educator, Shontina Vernon has built a body of work grounded in telling the stories and elevating the voices of those most impacted by injustice.
Dr. Francis’ research and teaching is focused on the long civil rights movement in the United States.It is about how people at the margins of society radically imagine, strategizes, and risk their lives for a more equitable future.