Organize Your Own, curated by Daniel Tucker, features work by contemporary artists that responds to the history of multiracial coalitions organizing against racism, poverty, and oppression. The ATMA was the first stop on OYO's six-leg tour between 2017-2019. For this travelling exhibition, my work focused on two areas: providing more framework in the reading area around the Young Lords, and organizing programming that was specific to our venue.
I specifically brought the exhibition to the ATMA to be in dialogue with Augustana College's Augie Reads book (the common read for all first-year students) for the 17-18 academic year: J.D. Vance's Hillbilly Elegy (2016). OYO uses the original Rainbow Coalition of Chicago, made up of a number of groups including the Illinois Black Panther Party, the Young Lords, and the Young Patriots, as one of the prompts for contemporary artists creating work for the exhibition. The Young Patriots were a group made up of Appalachian migrants living in the Uptown neighborhood of Chicago, and they were my way into broader conversations about oppression and poverty, connecting Appalachia to the Chicago-land region (home of many of Augustana students), and to telling a more inclusive story about the history of organizing in Appalachia and as it was carried with its migrants as they moved around the country. In addition, I wanted to frame conversations around the fights against oppression, racism, police violence, and poverty within the framework of coalition-building and coalition-politics. These concepts framed the programming I organized for the ATMA venue of OYO.
OYO Reading Area
While planning for the exhibition, I noticed that the exhibition focused strongly on the coalition built between the Illinois Black Panther Party and the Young Patriots. Wanting more of the voices of the Young Lords represented, I worked under the guidance José "Cha-Cha" Jiménez to compile an additional binder of archival materials from the DePaul University Special Collections and Archives to tell more of the Young Lords' story in Chicago. In addition, I included Young Lords: A Reader and Through the Eyes of Rebel Women to provide more context for the Young Lords on a national level. I also compiled a digital reading area, that was created under the guidance of members of the original Rainbow Coalition, which can still be accessed below:
Women in the Black Panther Party + Young Lords
This panel featured Joan McCarty (former member of the Illinois Black Panther Party) and Iris Morales (former member of the Young Lords), and discussed the roles and work of women in these organizations working against poverty, oppression, police brutality, and racism. It was moderated by Claire Kovacs, Director of the Augustana Teaching Museum of Art. This event was also a featured presentation of Augustana College's fall term Symposium Day: Transformations.
Poetry Response Project
The ATMA + the Midwest Writing Center invited writers within a 75 mile radius of the Quad Cities to submit a response poem influenced by A Time of the Phoenix, a poetry chapbook series edited by members of the Young Patriots Organization, and/or works included in the OYO exhibition. Some of the response poems were read at the opening, and all will be recorded, and featured on the main OYO website, managed by Daniel Tucker.
Map the Power: Quad Cities workshop
Who are the real beneficiaries of oppression? LittleSis (i.e. the opposite of Big Brother) is a research group that investigates the power elite to answer this question. In this session we will explore how “power research” is used to strengthen organizing, direct action, and movement-building. The workshop shared tools that allow anyone with internet to identify and expose the networks of power that fund hate groups, collaborate to dismantle the social safety net, and profit from systemic oppression.
Rainbow Coalition panel
A round table featuring members of the original Rainbow Coalition: a multi-racial coalition that formed in Chicago in the late 1960s to work against racism, poverty, and oppression.
Representatives from the Illinois Black Panthers Party (Stan McKinney), Rising Up Angry (Michael James), the Young Lords (Antonio Lopez), and the Young Patriots (Hy Thurman) will discuss how the Rainbow Coalition came into existence, the work it accomplished, and its impact and importance on the contemporary moment. The conversation will be moderated by Dr. Brian Lovato (Augustana College).
Ten sections of Augustana's First Year Inquiry 101 classes (about 200 students) visited the exhibition, engaging in discussion that connected the exhibition to their Augie Reads book, Hillbilly Elegy, interrogating Vance's frameworks of describing Appalachians as a failed Horatio Algiers' stories. They reflected on the history of the Rainbow Coalition, and dug into the works in the exhibition in small and large group discussion, as well as short writing assignments.