The Freedom Fellowship
Weeksville Heritage Center and Ebony Noelle Golden have selected those whom will be participating in the 2021 Freedom Fellowship cohort. Created as a virtual and possible in-person community-based semester (pending on COVID-19/coronavirus restriction updates), the Freedom Fellowship at Weeksville Heritage Center brings together community members to explore genealogy, oral history, archival practice, and collaborative performance through a series of public trainings and creative activations inspired by the founding and radical roots of the Weeksville neighborhood in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, NY. The fellowship is a core aspect of Jubilee 11213, a cultural organizing and public performance project that takes place between 2020 and 2022 in digital space, in the Weeksville community, and on WHC’s campus. Jubilee 11213 is a creation of Ebony Noelle Golden of Betty’s Daughter Arts Collaborative, who is the current Weeksville Artist-In-Residence.
Who are the 2021 Freedom Fellows?
Community participants of various levels of performance, educational, or community organizing experience and professional experience. We are building creative learning community of folks, ranging from beginning to advanced, who will be excited to both learn independently and with others.
The 2021 Freedom Fellows cohort are interested in creative exploration and public scholarship rooted in activism, cultural organizing, and making creative work that demonstrates critical exploration and deep love for Black culture and legacies of Black liberation that actively engage individuals, families and the community that is being created through this fellowship.
The Freedom Fellowship cohort is composed of at least 10 interdisciplinary participants, 20 years of age or older, prioritizing New Yorkers and those with historic, cultural or familial roots in Weeksville.
Freedom Fellows will engage in the following tasks:
- The free Black community of historic Weeksville from 1838 through the 1930s as well as the Weeksville rediscovery period in the 1960s and beyond;
- Liberation and reparations for diasporic black people, and the use of their knowledge and skills, lived experiences, and creativity in service of these imperatives;
- Archival research;
- Public scholarship (independent and collective);
- Collaborative art-making;
- Public performance (writing, acting and singing);
- Participating in public events; and,
- Deepening a relationship with self, family, and ancestry as means to transformation, reparations, and liberation.
GENEALOGY FOR BLACK FOLKS + NAVIGATING FAMILYSEARCH.ORG WITH TIMOTHY PROLIFIC EDWAUJONTE
Dates: February 6 and February 13, 2021
Time: 1:00-2:00 PM EDT
Genealogy for Black Folks
An introduction into being able to; excavate your family’s story based on documentation, to construct your family tree, and utilization of creative practice to help you process. In the first installment of the two-part genealogy workshop series the instructor will discuss the importance of Black folks engaging with genealogy research, best practices of genealogical research, and what specific hurdles Black folks may have to overcome to access ancestral history. In addition, the instructor will leave participants with several resources to help them start on their genealogical journey.
Intro to Navigating FamilySearch.org
In the second installment of this genealogy workshop series the facilitator will do an exhaustive review of FamilySearch.org, a free online genealogical database. This includes teaching participants how to effectively utilize the database to recover family records and documents, build a pedigree chart, extract information from records and documents for research purposes, and highlight similar databases for furthering participants’ genealogical journey.
EMBODYING ARCHIVES WITH JOYCE LEEANN JOSEPH
Dates: February 20 and February 27, 2021
Time: 1:00 PM-2:30 PM EDT
Embodying Archives is a conceptual framework that describes the memories and records we carry genetically, spiritually, and physically in our blood and bones. During this two-part workshop, the fellows will be introduced to this concept through readings, dialogues, movement, and your own embodied knowing. We will also engage Weeksville Heritage Center’s history to build bridges that connect our lived experiences to the rich and radical legacy of the historic Weeksville community. Please note that this could be a challenging exploration that should be supported by systems of care for yourself. Although this practice could be difficult, it could also provide healing and transformation for ourselves and those that have come before us and those that will come after us too. This process based work has been a continuous teaching that a liberated future, especially for Black folks, is cultivated through the body.
ORAL HISTORY: LEGACY NARRATIVE AS REPARATIONS WITH OBDEN MONDÉSIR
Dates: February 6 and February 13, 2021
Time: 2:30-3:30 EDT
One of the first things affected by the middle passage was the familial connection for those within the ship hold that joined the western world. First step to a holistic form of reparations of restoring one’s identity through an understanding of one’s personal, familial and ancestral past. Oral history methodology allows for participants to take part in the practice of witnessing and collecting the meaning making that Oral history provides space for themselves and their narrators.
In this workshop participants will understand the history oral tradition from West Africa, modern oral history methodology and how to collect interviews and build stories based on the journey of our families to this current moment.
Jubilee 11213: Performing Liberation Journeys with Ebony Noelle Golden
Dates: February 27, 2021 3:00-4:30 PM
March 15-21, 2021 (6:00-9:00 PM)
Performing Liberation Journeys is a storytelling and song weaving workshop that connects your family’s liberation journey to the legacy of the Weeksville community. During these sessions, we use theatre and performance technologies to write poems, songs, and short vignettes that will support building community, deepening our collective understanding of cultural reparations, and the development of Jubilee 11213 that will premier summer 2022 on the grounds of Weeksville Heritage Center and the surrounding neighborhood.
Timothy Prolific Edwaujonte (formerly Veit Jones) is a poet, writer, educator, genealogist, healer, and organizer. In the continuum of the Black Arts Movement, Edwaujonte synthesizes ancestral traditions, creative practice, and Hip-Hop culture as an Afro-Indigenous folkloric praxis. Prolific has performed poetry at venues including Cornell University, Columbia University, Rikers Island, STooPS, the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, SOB’s, and the Weeksville Heritage Center. Timothy has been published in African Voices, The Inquisitive Eater, Voicemail Poems, the Dancing While Black 2012-2018 Community Syllabus, 12th Street, the graphic novel Gunplay, the Penmanship Book anthology 30/30 Vol. 2, The Ferguson Moment, and YRB Magazine. Tim was a Riggio Writing and Democracy Fellow at The New School, and is a graduate fellow at The Watering Hole. He is the author of Prolific, Musaic: 40 Days, 40 Nights, and Ofrenda para las ancestras.
Joyce LeeAnn is a certified archivist and an interdisciplinary artist. She has worked for a community archive, a corporate archive, a large public library, and a prestigious museum. However, her archival praxis began as a young girl, and as an act of decolonization she centers her innate methodologies. In 2011, she self-published her archival text, somethymes grief goes for a walk. In 2013, she co-curated The Finding Aid: Black Women at the Intersection of Art and Archiving at the Schomburg Center. She is a House of Noire gem, and was a Create Change fellow with The Laundromat Project and a MoCADA creator in residence. In 2017, she emancipated her labor by cultivating Archival Alchemy®, a small business that specializes in creatively interpreting and enriching archives. Currently, Archival Alchemy is curating Sensing History, a virtual program for Weeksville Heritage Center; and producing a project that explores the concept of embodying archives.
Obden Mondésir is an outreach archivist and adjunct lecturer at Queens College, City University of New York, and an Oral Historian working at the Weeksville Heritage Center, a multidisciplinary house museum dedicated to preserving the history of the 19th century Free Black community in Weeksville, Brooklyn, New York.
At Queens College, he’s recently worked on developing an OER based curriculum in archival theory and practice at the Graduate School and Library and Information Studies. He also collects interviews on the SEEK program. The SEEK program which stands for “Search for Education, Elevation, and Knowledge” and was legislated into being in 1966, as a vehicle to integrate CUNY’s senior colleges and provide comprehensive academic support to assist capable students who otherwise might not be able to attend college.
At Weeksville Heritage Center, he developed public programming and he has conducted and presented on several community-based oral history projects that have focused on education, Black joy, and Black-owned restaurants in Central Brooklyn.
Obden has a dual M.A. in Library Science and History from Queens College and is the recipient of a West African Research Center Library Fellowship and the Citi Center for Culture + Queens Library Fellowship.
Ebony Noelle Golden is an artist, scholar, and culture strategist from Houston, TX and currently based in Harlem. She devises site-specific ceremonies, live art installations, creative collaborations, and arts experiments that explore and radically imagine viable strategies for collective black liberation. In 2020, Ebony launched Jupiter Performance Studio (JPS) which serves as a hub for the study of diasporic black performance traditions. JPS is integral to the development of a five-part theatrical ceremony that will be developed and produced over the next three years with partners in Harlem, Brooklyn, Durham, and Ashfield, Massachusetts. In 2009, Ebony founded Betty’s Daughter Arts Collaborative, a culture consultancy and arts accelerator, that devises systems, strategies, solutions for and with education, arts, culture, and community groups globally. You can learn more about Ebony and her work by visiting bettysdaughterarts.com.