The Spring 2021 Semester of Truth School Classes!

Sat Sep 11, 10:00 AM - 1:00 PM (EDT)

Sojourner Truth Memorial Statue, Corner of Park & Pine Streets, Florence, MA
This special offering is a guided tour via the Florence African American Heritage Trail, which provides an opportunity to see the homes and historic places where a rich legacy of abolition and women’s rights resides. This Trail commemorates the Florence of the mid-1800s, when Sojourner Truth lived in this small Massachusetts community. Engaging the local community to explore historic Florence – both physically and virtually – is the cornerstone of the Sojourner Truth Memorial Committee’s mission to honor her legacy. To that end, we offer walking tours of the African American Heritage Trail to the local community. [Note: The tour is about 1 mile long; please wear comfortable walking shoes and bring a bag lunch with you. The group will eat lunch together outside at the David Ruggles Center for Early Florence History mid-way through the tour. There will be a group discussion at lunch of how Sojourner Truth’s life is relevant to today’s social issues.].

Sat Sep 11, 4:00 - 6:00 PM (EDT)

Zoom
You are invited to listen in while Dr. Sut Jhally and Dr. Michael Klare discuss the events of September 11th twenty years ago and how that day changed American foreign and domestic policy. These two experts in international relations will answer the questions: What have we learned? Where are we now? Where are we headed? Bring your thoughts and questions, Dr. Jhally and Dr. Klare will leave plenty of time to respond to your inquiries and include the gathered group in the discussion.

Sun Sep 12, 4:00 - 6:00 PM (EDT)

Zoom
Countless movements for social and political change over the years have relied on artists to lead the way, inspire activism, change the narrative, stimulate discussion, and offer hope. Join in this interactive workshop as Leti facilitates what is sure to be a lively discussion on the reasons why and the ways that artists are moved to be creative during difficult and politically-charged times. Together the group will share what music, dance, poetry, painting, or other art forms being created now are moving you. The discussion will also include talking about the art forms you are currently creating that are sustaining your activism. Bring ideas, questions, examples, and an open heart! All are welcome!

Mon Sep 13, 5:00 - 7:00 PM (EDT)

Zoom
What is Calling Out? Calling someone out is the public practice of criticizing a person or group for something they have said or done that you think is politically incorrect. We all call people out by naming instances or patterns of oppressive behaviors and language use by others to seek accountability. Calling In means learning and selecting practices that invite people in for conversations with people who have different ideas about social justice work. Calling In requires a commitment to recognize and support each other's strengths, and to consciously help expand another's perspective. It is about working together to find and reach shared goals for building a human rights movement.

Sun Sep 19, 3:00 - 5:00 PM (EDT)

Zoom
Basic Principles of Improvisation for Activism: Jazz musicians draw on some very specific approaches to creating original music while staying mindful of a barrage of sound around them. We will listen to brief selections from great musicians, then draw on some of their useful wisdom for acquiring flexibility and valuing authenticity as we apply it to real circumstances and projects in our lives.

Wed Sep 22, 6:30 - 8:00 PM (EDT)

Zoom
When we transform the Culture of Power from racial and gender inequity to a place of healing, reconciliation, and peace, we will have happiness and peace where all life is sacred and no one is above or below. You are invited to a circle conversation about what such a world would look like.

Thu Sep 23, 6:00 - 8:00 PM (EDT)

Zoom
In this unique workshop, Dr. Love will re-emphasize the critical component and necessity of deconstructing barriers that perpetuate systematic racism by illustrating the importance of developing dynamic, diverse and effective communal collaborations. What does it look like when opposing cultures, organizations with clout, and individuals and/or groups with unearned leverage unite for a common cause that benefits all? What is the impact upon communities and society when strategic partnerships, coalitions and reaching across lines of differences occur? These and other questions will be tackled head-on in this two-part workshop series. Come prepared to be holistically stretched in every way imaginable while also inspired to move into action in doing your part in helping to combat racism.

Fri Sep 24, 4:00 - 5:30 PM (EDT)

Zoom
Two reproductive rights and justice activists from Western Massachusetts will lead a conversation about the most urgent issues facing pregnant people today, including access to reproductive health care, the policing of pregnant people, and the threat to abortion rights.

Sat Sep 25, 3:30 - 5:30 PM (EDT)

Zoom
During this class, we will dig deep into what the word "masculinity" means and how positive or negative masculine influences can affect those around us (our community). We will focus on what machismo means and how it effects LGBTQ+ youth and their development into adulthood. Furthermore, we will have some fun with role play. The goal is to discover healthy ways to approach real life situations when it comes to encountering machismo and to identify ways to be a positive masculine influence.

Sun Sep 26, 2:00 - 4:00 PM (EDT)

Zoom
Microaggressions are the everyday slights, indignities, put downs, and insults that Black Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC), women, LGBTQIA+, and other marginalized communities experience in their day-to-day interactions with people. They happen casually, frequently, and often without any harm intended. They reveal people’s conscious or unconscious bias against marginalized groups and leave the targets of their comments and actions feeling uncomfortable, offended, and hurt. Microaggressions can be incessant, occurring on an almost daily basis, and cumulative. While microaggressions may seem harmless, a lifetime of microaggressions can impact a person’s mental health and well-being in significant ways. In this workshop, we will learn how to recognize microaggressions and the messages that they send so that we can become more conscious and intentional in keeping ourselves from committing them. Preventing microaggressions from happening will help create more welcoming, kind, inclusive, and honoring spaces and is a way to support and care for our BIPOC and other marginalized siblings.

Tue Sep 28, 6:00 - 8:00 PM (EDT)

Zoom
In this class we will explore the benefits of and strategies for developing a diverse board and staff. We will discuss best practices in setting and reaching Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) goals in the workplace and on boards, including understanding our own biases and how those can prevent us from creating an inclusive workforce.

Wed Sep 29, 6:00 - 8:00 PM (EDT)

Zoom
You have diversified your staff and/or your Board, now what? In this class we will learn and discuss strategies to sustain the culture of an inclusive workplace or board. Can be taken as Part 2 of a 2-part series or individually.

Thu Sep 30, 4:00 - 6:00 PM (EDT)

Zoom
Through stories and songs this session will explore the journey and the contributions of African American women in their struggle for the Right to Vote in the U.S., highlighting African American suffragists, from the early 1800s up to the Voting Rights Act in 1965 and beyond. While the year 2020 has marked the centennial celebration of the Women’s Suffrage Movement in the United States, too often the voices and contributions of African American women have been underrepresented or omitted in this celebration. We will uplift and honor those profound voices, voices that continue to inspire us all today.

Sat Oct 2, 3:30 - 5:00 PM (EDT)

Zoom
In this class we will explore the bases of social justice in Islam and how it was practiced in the time of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be on him) and those who followed him in excellence. How was this beneficial and how can we practice it today?.

Tue Oct 5, 4:00 - 6:00 PM (EDT)

Zoom
We are living in unprecedented times where parallel health, economic and racial justice crises call on us all to use our power to change systems that impact all of our day to day lives. Communities are building power to address ranging issues from housing instability for homeowners and renters to structural racism impacting who has access to and trusts COVID 19 vaccines. So what is community power? And why does community power matter to improve health? Learn from recent work to understand and define the diverse ways that communities are organizing to influence health. This will be an interactive conversation where we'll share recent health research and where we hope you'll bring your experiences and ideas to learn together!

Wed Oct 6, 6:30 - 8:30 PM (EDT)

Zoom
With Shelley Zimbalist moderating and asking probing questions, Dr. Jhally and Dr. Goldfield will discuss what activists need to know about the situation with Israel and Palestine and will reflect on which programs and initiatives seeking to address the conflict are helpful and which ones are less successful. With varied perspectives and decades of experience studying and teaching on Israel and Palestine, as well as on the ground, in-person involvement, these activist-scholars have much to say and much to teach. Dr. Jhally and Dr. Goldfield will engage with each other and with the gathered group – Shelley Zimbalist will invite your questions and reflections. Come with open minds and open hearts, all are welcome.

Thu Oct 7, 6:00 - 8:00 PM (EDT)

Zoom
Our movements need power to bring about significant, lasting, deep social change. And one way we can increase our power is to increase our funding, so we can carry out the programs, campaigns, projects, and events we plan and lead in our communities. Experienced fundraiser and social change activist Leti Bueno will talk in specific terms about funding social change work. This discussion will include best practices, idea sharing, and fundraising pitfalls to avoid. We will also take a look at the importance of inspirational storytelling, healthy partnerships in philanthropy, and donor relationship building. Bring your experiences, questions, and even reservations and fears about fundraising to this class – Leti will welcome you and all you want to share!

Sat Oct 9, 3:00 - 5:00 PM (EDT)

Zoom
This workshop offers participants the opportunity to transform the energy of fear and adversity into courage and hope. Through movement meditation, free writing, storytelling, and theater activities, unknown gifts of the Labyrinth will reveal themselves. This fear I face/in a deeper breath I take/is the courage I share. The gift of fear, small or large, is a daily gift. Taking the risk to face fear invites and supports us to move, step by step, through a constricted space into the next level of fearlessness, confidence, and transformation. All are welcome; there are no pre-requisites for this class, just come with an open heart.

Tue Oct 12, 5:00 - 7:00 PM (EDT)

Zoom
With the world turned upside down, worry, uncertainty, and negativity are dulling our senses. This workshop is an opportunity to buff up the creative muscle within you so you can do your best work, be flooded with creativity and flow, and have people take notice of your words and thoughts. Come prepared to do some writing together. You will be given a tool kit of strategies to keep your creative spirit brilliant.

Thu Oct 14, 5:00 - 6:30 PM (EDT)

Zoom
In the summer of 2016, the Movement for Black Lives Policy Table released a platform that intervenes in this political moment, advances a more radical Black-centered policy vision, and addresses the systemic devaluing and destruction of Black lives. A major part of the platform asserts a world where those most impacted in our communities control the laws, institutions, and policies that are supposedly meant to serve us – from our schools to our local budgets, economies, our land, and the police. Join us for a forum about the platform’s call for “community control over police” as a means of shifting power, enforcing democracy, deconstructing the historic relationship between the police and the Black community, and re-imagining a social force designed to actually protect and serve its population as policy, and not as a meaningless slogan. Through multimedia presentation, group dialogue, and interactive exercise, we will learn what it will take to win community control over the police in a given locale and how to start a campaign to achieve it.

Sat Oct 16, 4:00 - 6:00 PM (EDT)

Zoom
Spirituals and gospel music are much more than pleasing songs to listen to – they are powerful representations of the triumphant spirit and faith that have defined African American music and people. In this class we will take a musical journey from West Africa, through the middle passage, to the North American shores where the African American culture was forged. Through songs, stories, and performance, this participatory program will invite the audience to experience the beauty, joy, and power of this music and culture.

Sun Oct 17, 2:00 - 4:00 PM (EDT)

Zoom
In this workshop, we will discuss the long history of solidarity between Black and APPI communities and envision new ways of being in solidarity with each other in support of Black Lives Matter and Stop Asian Hate movements. We will expose the ways in which white supremacy has fueled tensions and divided Black and APPI communities and will address the anti-Blackness and xenophobia that exist within our communities. We need each other in the struggle to dismantle white supremacy, and this workshop will provide opportunities to build deeper bridges of understanding and connection to each other as we work to create a world where Black and brown people are safe and free from racism and violence. We persevere in this work in the service of our collective liberation and the full recognition of the value of our lives and humanity.

Tue Oct 19, 6:30 - 9:00 PM (EDT)

Zoom
The focus of this class will be the mass incarceration system, which took off in the United States in the 1970s and is directly related to the emerging black freedom struggle. At a time when black labor was made superfluous to the economics of an emerging global neo-liberal system, and when black demands for justice found expression in urban uprising, the prison system became a way to house and contain a potentially revolutionary class. Our discussion will center on the exploration of that issue and its consequences.

Thu Oct 21, 7:00 - 8:30 PM (EDT)

Zoom
Gather with activist, teacher, musician and mentor Steven Hernandez for a workshop during which Steven will discuss what gives young people strength, what challenges they face, what they need in order to keep going in the face of hard times, and what they need from mentors. Bring questions, and come ready to listen with the ears of your hearts and to share from your own experience. All welcome, join us.

Sat Oct 23, 3:00 - 5:00 PM (EDT)

Zoom
This workshop is a facilitated discussion for professionals who would like to more actively incorporate decolonization into anti-racism practices for mental health care. All those who are supporting people on front-lines social change efforts are welcome, regardless of discipline or credentials. We will consider concepts of wellness and illness; diagnoses; parallel and multiple realities; and collective, intergenerational, historical trauma and resilience. Because this is an very broad topic that requires sustained commitment over time, resources will be recommended for additional study and engagement beyond the workshop.

Sun Oct 24, 4:00 - 6:00 PM (EDT)

Zoom
From 1970 to 1980, the Third World Women’s Alliance lived the dream of third world feminism. One of the earliest groups advocating for intersectional activism, they argued that women of color faced a “triple jeopardy” of race, gender, and class oppression. Widely recognized as the era’s primary voice for women of color, this alliance across ethnic and racial identities was unique then and now. Pat Romney will share the history of this group and its members and together we will explore what this history suggests for organizing today.

Tue Oct 26, 4:30 - 6:30 PM (EDT)

Zoom
We all have ancestors who have wisdom to share. How do we locate our ancestors and build a practice of connecting with them regularly? What can our ancestors teach us: whether they died at the hands of capitalists or participated in the oppressive violence that ravaged the lives of so many? How do we address violent, oppressive legacies? How do we honor our ancestors? Join us to explore these questions and find ways to further connect with your ancestors on your own.

Sat Oct 30, 4:30 - 5:30 PM (EDT)

Zoom
Don't be concerned about Miss Thulani's youthful energy, this dancer knows how to slow down, breathe deeply, and guide folks of all ages and abilities through a time of movement that is sure to restore, rejuvenate, and renew. You can do as much or as little of the movement exercises as you want, at the intensity that you choose, and be a part of a group of tired activists seeking to refill the well and lift their spirits. Arrive low on energy and pizazz and leave refreshed. Miss Lani's open heart and gentle approach will make you feel welcome. You will be glad you participated! Join us!

Thu Nov 4, 6:00 - 8:00 PM (EDT)

Zoom
You are invited to listen in and then ask questions when this biracial pair talks about their friendship and working relationship. Honest about how they forged the bond they share and about joys and hard patches, Dr. Love and Dr. Ayvazian will discuss the special considerations and sensitivities that are part of a friendship across racial lines. Come with an open heart and open mind – ready to listen, ask questions, and share from your own experience.

Sat Nov 6, 1:00 - 4:00 PM (EDT)

Zoom
Want to know how to eliminate racism? You are not alone. In this interactive workshop, we start by expanding our understanding of how racism impacts all of us, in subtle and some not so subtle ways. How can surfacing unconscious attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors minimize their influence? Come explore with like-minded others.

Sun Nov 7, 2:00 PM - Sun Nov 21, 4:00 PM (EST)

Zoom
Part 1: As the U.S. experiences this latest collective cultural reckoning with systemic racism and racialized violence against Black and brown people, organizations and businesses have been more vocally espousing values of racial diversity, equity, and inclusion. Yet, efforts at creating equity and inclusion aren’t necessarily gaining traction or creating change. That is because things need to change not just at the level of policy but at the cultural level. Organizations may bring more Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) into the organization, but unless there is a shift in culture, they will not be able to retain them. Cultural humility, the life-long process of critical self-reflection to identify personal and systemic biases and address power imbalances, supports this shift in culture, inviting and challenging people from the dominant culture to decenter their experience and work to understand and value the cultural context of marginalized communities. People from the dominant culture often do not recognize their own cultural norms and biases. This workshop will help to make what is invisible, visible so that it can be transformed. In this workshop, you will develop the awareness and tools to become more culturally responsive and to actively build bridges of understanding across cultures. Come to this workshop to become better equipped to create cultures that are truly welcoming, inclusive, and equitable.

Thu Nov 11, 6:30 - 8:00 PM (EST)

Zoom
Join EJ Seibert for real talk around issues of class – from working class to owning class. EJ will share a framework for how to think about and talk about these sensitive issues and then open the floor for questions, thoughts, feelings, discussion. All are welcome and invited to speak openly. Come to listen, share, be challenged and grow together.

Sat Nov 13, 4:00 - 5:30 PM (EST)

Zoom
Join these two deeply spiritual women as they talk with one another and with the gathered group about how their spirituality influences their activism. Learn from a pastor and a dancer – both spiritually attuned and alive – about bringing head, heart, hands and spirit to the hard work of dismantling racism, caring for a planet in peril, educating young people, embracing justice for all, and promoting Black Lives Matter. Honest, open, sensitive, and inclusive, Miss Lani and Rev. Sarah will share from their hearts and will invite you into the conversation. Bring thoughts, feelings, questions, and your own experiences of integrating spirit and activism. All welcome.

Sun Nov 14, 3:00 - 5:00 PM (EST)

Zoom
Writing is a powerful energizer. This workshop is inspired by the Amherst Writers and Artists (AWA) philosophy: A writer is someone who writes! Using a range of prompts, together we will write, listen, and share in a safe environment that will inspire and build confidence. Leaving behind the formal rules and structures of writing, we find freedom to create and often discover surprises and treasures. Sometimes we don’t know what we have to say until we say it.

Tue Nov 16, 6:00 - 8:00 PM (EST)

Zoom
As we continue to navigate a new world in ever-changing immigration policies, the work of advocacy and activism to support immigrants has not changed, it has only intensified. But what can YOU do? Join Leti Bueno, a social change advocate and former board member of Austin-based Casa Marianella's immigrant shelter, as she leads and guides a discussion on immigration justice, activism, and advocacy. We will examine the vital support of organizations and volunteers across the country, and their direct impact on improving the lives of our newly arrived community members. Get inspired and come away with a concrete action plan on how to join these efforts and gain a better understanding of the connectedness and powerful effects of organizations and people who continue to say YOU ARE WELCOME HERE!

Thu Nov 18, 7:00 - 8:30 PM (EST)

Zoom
For as long as there have been movements for peace, equality, and social change, there have been songs and chants that fueled the work. Come listen and share as musician Steven Hernandez discusses how social justice issues influence his music, teaching, mentoring, and performances. Bring your own thoughts and experiences of how music has fueled the movement work you are engaged in, come with questions, or just come to listen as this powerful artist and educator reflects on how music help keep his activism alive. Be ready...musician Steven might just burst into song! All welcome!

Sat Nov 20, 4:00 - 6:00 PM (EST)

Zoom
This class will explore music of the Civil Rights Movement from the 1940s through 1960s. We will learn about and sing together songs that were both adapted and composed for use in protest marches, rallies, meetings, and other events. The late Congressman John Lewis said that the Civil Rights Movement without music is like a bird without wings. Through this class we will experience the tremendous power of the music that John Lewis referenced, and appreciate its critical role in the ongoing struggle of African Americans for freedom and equity.

Tue Nov 30, 6:30 - 8:00 PM (EST)

Zoom
In this class, these two Muslim women will explore commonly-held perceptions, assumptions, and stereotypes about Muslim women. This dynamic mother-daughter pair will approach these issues through the lens of contemporary socio-political trends as well as through their own cross-generational lived experiences. Discussing issues of being part of a multi-faith family, wearing the hijab, independence and self-expression for Muslim women, Tahirah and Safiyah will speak openly before opening the floor to questions, thoughts, comments, and reflections. All welcome, join us for this mind-expanding and heart-opening sharing.

Thu Dec 2, 5:00 - 6:30 PM (EST)

Zoom
Every event can be successful when you plan carefully, do the right things at the right time, and have a reliable support team. In the social justice world there are several types of events that may include interactive methods known as popular education exercises. Depending on your goals, these range from briefings with policy makers and press conferences, to rallies and public education forums. Through multimedia presentation, interactive exercise, dynamic peer sharing, and fun pop quizzing of the facilitator, this workshop will cover these and other elements for making meetings, retreats, and even conventions a resounding success.

Sat Dec 4, 3:00 - 5:00 PM (EST)

Zoom
Families, school employees, students, and anyone else interested in social justice in our schools are encouraged to join this class. Ms. Agna will share images and reflections from her career as a teacher and principal of the Jackson Street School in Northampton, MA. We will examine the complicated situations and power dynamics that play out through a variety of stories. We will learn and practice a model of unpacking these stories, and ways to design both immediate responses to aggression and long-term strategies to make lasting change. Our discussions will focus on our own cultural identities and institutional practices while pushing back on the way people often hide privilege and oppression by trying to keep the focus on individual character traits. Our goal is to build capacity and community, and to connect in the fight to make our schools places of empowerment and restorative justice.

Sun Dec 5, 3:00 - 5:00 PM (EST)

Zoom
In this workshop, co-taught by two talented and experienced educators in the movement to help raise children who are able to identify and resist personal and cultural bias, participants will engage in lively discussion about what works, what should be avoided, and how we can all make a difference in the lives of young people as they negotiate a diverse world in our schools, in our communities, and in our world. Be prepared to be stimulated, inspired, challenged, and to leave with a new and deeper understanding of anti-bias issues – both for children and adults. Come with an open heart and mind, and jump in!

Tue Dec 7, 4:30 - 6:00 PM (EST)

Zoom
This class will begin with a discussion of the structural roots of Islamophobia in contemporary America. We will then focus on what allies can do to interrupt the stereotypes and misinformation so prevalent in society today. Mehlaqa will lead an interactive workshop which will allow participants to explore their own implicit biases and identify ways to strengthen ally behaviors to partner with Muslim communities. Come with questions! All welcome.

Thu Dec 9, 6:00 - 9:00 PM (EST)

Zoom
Everyone is talking about Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). Learn the basic foundation of DEI and why it is a better model for everyone. This training is designed to provide basic knowledge and understanding of our own biases and how they continue the cycle of the many “isms” that exist in today’s world.

Sat Dec 11, 2:00 - 4:00 PM (EST)

Zoom
In this class we will explore the principles of ‘solidarity science’ and what it means for our community. We will present a few examples that illustrate how solidarity science solves problems by recognizing the significance of social, political, economic, and cultural contexts and by inviting many people and types of knowledge to the table. Participants will workshop how we can use solidarity science to address the issues we identify in the community, and how we can make science a public good. Our workshop is intended for a wide audience with diverse perspectives. At the core of solidarity science is a focus on reaching multiple experiences and understandings to solve problems. Our audience is asking how to demand more from the scientific community, how to create coalition, how to listen to each other better, how to critique the role of science in our lives, and rather than asking, “how do we fix this?”, asking, “who do we need at the table to fix this?” Everyone is warmly welcome at this lively, exciting, and provocative workshop – join us!

Sun Dec 12, 2:00 - 4:00 PM (EST)

Zoom
Despite the sticky floor, and concrete/bamboo ceiling phenomenon (the women of color equivalent of the glass ceiling), and though woefully underrepresented, women of color (WOC) are occupying an increasing number of leadership positions throughout U.S. society. In 2020, Kamala Harris, a Black and South Asian American woman was elected as vice president, the first woman and woman of color to serve in that role. In that same election cycle, a historic number of women of color, 51, were elected to congress. In this workshop, we will discuss the leadership styles and social impact and contributions of WOC leaders. We will raise up these inspiring models of leadership and celebrate the wisdom, resourcefulness, resilience, and brilliance of WOC and their ability to navigate and lead despite the intersectional oppressions they face. We will have the opportunity to discuss what we can do, personally and collectively, to support the leadership of women of color.