Vital Voices

Vital Voices brings together individuals and communities to “talk, listen, and connect” through literature, language, and performance in important cultural spaces around the Valley. We encourage and utilize a range of creative expression, which demonstrates the necessity and vitality of multiple perspectives on and approaches to understanding our humanity.  The uniqueness of this program is that participant bring a favorite quote, passage, essay, or poem of Hurston to share in an evening discussion, performance, and sharing. Vital Voices utilizes a four-pronged approach to each monthly gathering:

  1. celebrate important artist/author/ genre
  2. support local artists
  3. expose new audiences to important cultural spaces
  4. encourage active participation and sharing from audiences. 

Our Vital Voices Programming has included: 

  • The King We Don’t Know - Virtual (January 18, 2021)
    • In 4 April 2018 NPR interview on assessing the Civil Rights Movement’s iconiclegacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. fifty years after this death, Dr. CharlesMcKinney, professor of history at Rhodes College in Memphis (TN), warnsagainst the “cotton-candy version of King” that too many Americans harbor at theexpense of looking fully and more closely at the more radical King. Dr. McKinneyfurther contends that “there’s a danger in the way King’s image has beenenshrined in our country's ethos, and it should not be ignored.” The occasion ofthis MLK Holiday is an opportunity look at the King that we don’t know and/ ordon’t often talk about while we paint him as a romanticized “Black Santa Claus”of love and non-violence. As a Vital Voices, this format invites attendees to bringwith them a 2-3 minute share: poem, passage, speech, photograph, song orstory.

 

  • The Uses of Anger - Virtual (September 29, 2020)
    • According toPsychology Today, “anger is one of the basic human emotions ...tied to basic survival and ... honed over the course of human history. Anger isrelated to the ‘fight, flight, or freeze’ response of the sympathetic nervous system;it prepares humans to fight. But fighting doesn't necessarily mean throwingpunches; it might motivate communities to combat injustice by changing laws orenforcing new behavioral norms.” Against the backdrop of this summer’s localand global protests against racial injustice, this program invites participants tobring a poem, passage, visual art, artifact, or story that connects them withanger. A facilitated show-and-tell examining the various ways that individuals andcommunities express and respond to anger, this event builds on a previousSpring 2018 Project Humanities event titled “The Angry ‘Other,” wherein weexamined the extent to which anger is racialized, gendered, aged and classed.
  • Celebrating Toni Morrison - The Helen K. Mason Performing Arts Center (January 20,2020)
    • In celebration of the Nobel and Pulitzer-prize winning novelist, ProjectHumanities and The Black Theatre Troupe present "Vital Voices: CelebratingToni Morrison." How did Toni Morrison's work impact you? What are some ofyour favorite pieces of hers? Join this free community event and bring a poem,passage, photo, personal story, oranything else that evokes a memory ofMorrison. 

 

  • Ntozake Shange - The Helen K. Mason Performing Arts Center (January 21, 2019)
    • In celebration of the iconic spokenword-poet, novelist and playwright, ProjectHumanities and The Black Theatre Troupe presents “Vital Voices: Rememberntozake shange.” How did shange’s work impact you? What are some of yourfavorite pieces of hers? Join this free community event and bringa line, passage,poem, song, photo or anything else that evokes a memory of shange.
  • Social Justice Pearls and Gems - SDFC (November 29, 2018)
    • What is “social justice,” and how does one advocate for “life, liberty and justicefor all”? What motivates, challenges, exhausts, and sustains individuals andcommunities engaging in social justice work? Join this conversation about socialjustice as a manifestation of individual and shared humanity by bringing a favoritepassage, song, photograph, personal story, performance, poem, artifact for a 2-3minute sharing of what you consider social justice "pearls and gems.
  • My Culture Is Not My Own – The Empty Space Theater (March 29, 2017)
    • Have you ever felt that you did not belong to your own cultural group? What connects us to our cultural identity? 
  • Faith is... –  ASU Memorial Union, Yuma Room 225 (February 6, 2017)
    • A community conversation on where faith is fostered and found.
  • Refugee Experiences –  First Congregational United Church of Christ (September 8, 2016)
    • What connects you to the refugee experience? Facilitated by Raveen Arora, owner of The Dhaba, Tempe.

 

  • What A Children’s Story Taught Me About Humanity –  Tempe Public Library (April 8, 2015) 
    • Bring a passage, picture, quote, or artifact to an evening of discussion and sharing. What has your favorite Children’s book taught you about respect, kindness, integrity, empathy, forgiveness, compassion, and self-reflection? In partnership with the Tempe Public Library.
  • Taboo –  April 15, 2014, The home of Fatimah Halim (April 15, 2014)
    • What makes something taboo? Is taboo about censorship? Does taboo change over time?
  • Forgiveness –  Arizona Jewish Historical Society (February 11, 2014)
    • Pastor Robert Koth of First Congregational United Church of Christ. 
  • Silence –  ASU Turrell Skyspace Garden (October 24, 2013) 
    • Facilitator Amira De La Garza, ASU Associate Professor of Communication and Southwest Borderlands Scholars. 
  • Urban is –  Cypher Center Urban Arts (August 15, 2013)
    • Facilitator Bboy House

 

  • Exploring Childhood –  Palo Verde Library (January 17, 2013)
    • A bilingual evening of discussion, performance, and sharing, featuring Maryvale High Scholl Classical Guitar Quintet and Tradiciones Dance Company.
  • Blues & Jazz –  Desert Botanical Garden(December 13, 2012)
    • Live music and discussion. Facilitated by Richard Mook, ASU Professor of Music History. In partnership with Jazz from A to Z. 
  • Storytelling –  Cesar Chavez Public Library(October 18, 2012)
    • In partnership with: Performance in the Borderlands and Savvy Pen Consultants. In collaboration with Phoenix Public Library. Facilitated by Fatimah Halim, Storyteller. Performance by Storyteller Mark “Story Slam”.
  • Sebastiao Salgado & Human Rights Photography – Fair Trade Café at Civic Space Park(August 16, 2012)
    • In collaboration with: Performance in the Borderlands and Savvy Pen Consultants. With generous support from our sponsor and host, Fair Trade Café at Civic Space Park. Exploring human rights photography and issues through the lens and life of Sebastiao Salgado.
  • Indigenous Voices – Sunshine’s Motor City Café ( July 19, 2012)
    • In partnership with: Performance in the Borderlands and Savvy Pen Consultants.

 

  • Gloria Anzaldua –  Arizona Latino Arts and Cultural Center (June 21, 2012)
    • In collaboration with: Performance in the Borderlands and Savvy Pen Consultants. With generous support from our sponsor and host, the Arizona Latino Arts and Cultural Center.
  • Zora Neale Hurston –  Phoenix Youth Hostel and Cultural Center (May 17, 2012)
    • A celebration of the life and work of Zora Neale Hurston.