Preserving stories of Black leaders

Print More

Next Monday, the artist-run nonprofit Visual Studies Workshop will host a discussion and book launch for its second “In This Moment” chapbook series at the Dryden Theater.

The ITM project was started to demonstrate the breadth and scope of revolutionary work happening in Rochester’s Black community. 

“I believe the ‘In This Moment’ chapbook series is one critical way that we, as a greater community, may honor Black leaders, preserve their stories, showcase the incredible work of Black photographers and essayists while offering opportunities for us all to examine our role in pursuing a just and equitable society,” says Jeanne Strazzabosco, ITM co-creator and coordinator.

“In This Moment 2: Revolution Reckoning Reparation” features 10 teams which all include a Black leader, photographer and essayist who create the profile together. Each chapbook, or paperback booklet, is 20 pages long focusing on the work the leader is doing in the community with photos and essays from the team.

A total of 10,000 chapbooks will be distributed for free to the area. Students will be able to have a copy through RCSD, suburban, rural and charter schools as well as colleges and universities. Rochester Public and Monroe County Libraries will also have free copies for community members.

“As the inspirational stories of local Black leaders featured in our ITM chapbooks reach our libraries, classrooms, and community spaces, they will foster thoughtful, fruitful discourse around the importance of representation and inclusion and how much we gain when we are all at the table,” Strazzabosco says.

The ITM series, published by Visual Studies Workshop Press, was created by Strazzabosco and curator Amanda Chestnut.

Both ITM and VSW hope the project can be transformational to the region’s vitality by engaging and elevating diverse voices, breaking down stereotypes, and educating about the greater community. They also view it as a way of preserving important stories of Black action in Rochester.

The book launch will feature two of the 10 teams for a discussion moderated by Hernease Davis, assistant curator at VSW. Panelists include Linda Clark M.D., chief medical officer at Jordan Health, Melanie Funchess, CEO/principal at Ubuntu Village Works, photographers Cocoa Rae David and Natalia Lauer, and essayists Lisa Maria Rickman and Quajay Donnell.

The chapbook features other leaders including:

■ Rev. Myra Brown, pastor, Spiritus Christi Church

■ Anita Cameron , disability justice activist

■ Reenah Golden, founder, executive and artistic director, the Avenue Black Box Theatre

■ Timothy James Johnson, volunteer minister, Asbury First United Methodist Church and professor emeritus, Roberts Wesleyan College

■ Joshua Rashaad McFadden, visual artist and assistant professor of photography, Rochester Institute of Technology

■ Shaun Nelms, vice president of community partnerships, University of Rochester

■ David Paul M.D., chief resident, Department of Neurosurgery, Strong Memorial Hospital, and founder,  Bold and Gritty Coffee

■ Ian Wilson M.D., founder/co-curator of WALL/THERAPY

All guests to the event will receive a complementary copy. The event is free to the public but requires registration. It will also be streamed live on Instagram.

Jacob Schermerhorn is a Rochester Beacon contributing writer and data journalist. The Beacon welcomes comments and letters from readers who adhere to our comment policy including use of their full, real name. Submissions to the Letters page should be sent to [email protected]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *