Every two weeks from the end of April to mid-June, Allied Media Projects’ Speakers Series is hosting a collection of four virtual events called "Bloom."
The free events include a short-film premiere, artist discussions, special guests, youth-empowering discussions, ancestral ceremonial practices, and various artistic collaborations.
Brenda Hernandez, event manager at AMP, says its speaker series is different this year due to the pandemic.
“So for this reason, we call it ‘Bloom’ because we thought it was sort of a nice visual reference of what’s going on in the network, and what’s going on in the world as we’re 16 months into a pandemic,” Hernandez says. “We wanted people to envision a world without borders, honor ceremonial practices, and celebrate artistic collaborations at different events.”
Hernandez says connections outside of Detroit have strengthened in AMP during the pandemic, and that Bloom is a reminder that people are still finding joy and making connections in the midst of shifting the way we live in cultural and political movements.
“When we started thinking about the conversations and topics we wanted to amplify like youth power, what it means to be undocumented currently,” Hernandez says. “How are people thinking about our ancestral tools and histories and ceremonies as a way to think of like self-care and healing, the current pandemic, and uprising?”
During the events, AMP will provide American Sign Language (ASL), speech-to-text, and live Spanish translation.
"Youth Power," the first event, will highlight the cultural and political impacts of youth, adults who support them, and how youth continue to transform society. Featured guests include Melissa Regalado, Vanessa Sanchez, Adrienne Ayers, and Nia Barnes. It takes place at 5 p.m. on Thursday, April 29.
"Undocumented & Unafraid," Bloom’s second event, will discuss dismantling fear, advancing freedom, acknowledging issues within the immigration system, and empowering undocumented immigrants. The discussion will be led by media-makers and immigration justice leaders such as Patrice Lawrence, Jennicet Gutierrez, Damon Williams, and Daniel Kisslinger. It will take place at 5 p.m. on Thursday, May 13.
"Ancestral Ceremonies" will delve into the history, reflection, and reaffirmation of Afro-diasporic ceremonial practices to heal their past, present, and future. Black queer artists, healers, and ecologist collective Lead to Life will premiere their ritual film, “Between Starshine and Clay.” It takes place at 5 p.m. on Thursday, May 27.
Bloom’s closing event, "Deep Work," will feature a conversation held by producer Sterling Toles and Detroit rapper Boldy James, who will explore their collaborative album, Manger on McNichols. The conversation will cover their transformation, relationships, artistic practices, and how they use art for liberation. It takes place at 5 p.m. on Thursday, May 13.
Jeanette Lee, co-executive director of AMP, says AMP is a network of media makers working for social justice. Their mission is to cultivate media for liberation.
Lee says there are three major programs; the Allied Media Conference, Sponsored Projects Program, and the Speakers Bureau.
“The Speakers Series event, starting with the ‘Bloom’ series, are going to provide the kinds of touchpoints, like the inspiration, the connection, and like, the idea-generating that we know comes out of the Allied Media Conference,” Lee says. “They’re almost like little capsules of that experience that are being spread throughout the year in between the biennial conference.”
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