Share Your Voice

"We're more the same than different. It makes me more hopeful about our world."

 

On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day 2014, community members gathered to celebrate and create an inspiring community conversation.

"Strangers? Who? Where were they today? I found only friends in the making."

Check out photos, or read the Post-Gazette's article about the event.

After hearing stories from some super community members using art to bridge gaps between cultures, everyone gathered in the Great Hall and sat down with someone new, someone they'd never met before. Through conversation, poetry, and drawing, folks practiced new ways to communicate and found common ground together.

The opening dialogue featured anupama (anu) jain, Diversity Consultant and Researcher; Evan Church, UP's artist in residence; Tirzah DeCaria, co-founder of Creative Citizen Studios; and Jonathan Reyes, from the Braddock Carnegie Library Art Lending Collection (BCLALC). Each person discussed their work and how it has impacted multiple communities, and helped increase understanding between communities.

Moving into the Great Hall, guests were encouraged to find a stranger.  Some folks drew pictures of each other (check out some of the portraits below), some folks wrote poetry, and some folks just simply talked to each other.  Two sisters wrote poems of their experience, and even read them out loud at the end of the event: 

Poem
By Shaquayla Hampton

People, family, community,
Is what I see.
Getting together to learn each other.
It seems like a happy place to be.

We asked each other questions,
We talked about art.
Sometimes we're all the same,
Although our differences are apart.

I've learned about art; how it tells us things.
And how drawings say more than words.
Things aren't always what they seem,
That's why we don't judge a book by its cover.

 

Building Community
By Cecelia Hampton

Entertain strangers with charity in your heart,
Building relationships through conversation mixed with art.

Showing kindness to all, treating everyone equal,
Extending a helping hand, caring for all people.

Doing away with all negative judgment which causes division,
And looking through the eyes of love, seeing a Greater Vision.

Not focusing on a person's outward appearance,
But getting to know someone based on who they are within.

If we allow ourselves to come together in this manner of unity,
Then like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s vision,
we'll build a Beloved Community!

The evening came to a close with a song, a dance, and a big community meal.

Anqwenique Wingfield sang "Lift Every Voice" while Anthony Williams performed an interpretive, modern dance.  After the performance, community members broke bread together, ending a day of community celebration.