EBM celebration PARTICIPANTS
EBONY NOELLE GOLDEN, MODERATOR
Ebony is a native of Houston, Texas and currently resides in the South Bronx. Her work brings a unique perspective to BDAC that sets the consultancy apart and has been recognized by important cultural institutions across the United States. As a strategist, Ebony co-creates and powers holistic, results-oriented strategies for social impact with some of the boldest and most insightful artists and institutions in the country.
As an artist-scholar, Golden stages site-specific rituals + live art productions that profoundly explore the complexities of freedom in the time of now. She has developed and taught several theatre courses on the topic of theatre for social change. Golden is a performance studies, black avant-garde theatre, and womanist performance art scholar and lecturer at The New School.
Golden is currently developing 125th and Freedom, a performance art installation of ten choreopoetic rituals along 125th Street exploring home, migration, displacement, and the eradication of black space due to gentrification, slated for a summer 2017 street performance debut. The work will be re-configured for a spring 2018 New York City theatrical debut. She is also developing a series of invisible dance theatre performances (to be staged in public locations in New York City) interrogating the impact of the medical injustice and forced sterilization on women, trans, and gender-non-conforming people in collaboration with Cara Page, Executive Director of The Audre Lorde Project. www.bettysdaughterarts.com
Kayla Hamilton is an artist, mover and educator from Texarkana, Texas. She currently dances with Sydnie L. Mosley Dances and Gesel Mason Performance Projects.Through K. Hamilton Projects, Kayla produces work that tells the stories of people of color, those with atypical bodies and those with (dis)abilities. She is also a member of The Skeleton Architecture, a collective of black womyn and gender non-conforming artists who use the practice of improvisation to create, advocate and challenge. When Kayla is not dancing, she is in the classroom teaching science and dance in East Harlem.
Akira Armstrong began her intensive dance, drama, and vocal training at age 8 at Mind Builders Creative Arts Center; Bronx, New York. Akira was hand-picked to participate in a high-level merit program, Akira is also a former student of the Alvin Ailey School and has always possessed many talents as she performed all over New York City, she perfected her craft of dance.
Following her graduation from professional performing arts high school, Ms. Armstrong studied at Syracuse University, where she received her B.A. in Public Relations / Education. She has performed with Jubilation Dance Company, Bernice Johnson Dance Company, the world famous Apollo Theater, and Ladies of Hip Hop at Cosmo Theater in Vienna, Austria. In 2007, Akira debuted as a principal dancer in two of Beyonce’s music videos: “Greeenlight” and “Get Me Bodied”.
Due to the bias faced by plus size dancers, Akira formed Pretty Big in the spring of 2009. Her talents encompass more than just dance. In 2011 Akira worked with hip hop legends “Salt-n-Pepa” as their personal makeup artist and has traveled alongside them to countries such as, Dubai and Australia. Initially, after realizing a need in the community, Akira began conducting workshops that were primarily based on appearance enhancement. Today, Pretty Big is the 1st plus size international dance company.
In 2015 Pretty Big Movement was featured in a video entitled “Personally”. This video was a homage to all of the black men and women who were victims of police brutality and a tribute to the “Black Lives Matter” movement. In February 2017, The Scene interviewed Akira and the members of Pretty Big Movement. The video went viral and over 21.5 million viewers became aware of Pretty Big and Akira’s desire to enhance one’s outlook on their personal appearance.
Ifeoma Ike is a first-generation Nigerian American with over a decade experience in policy advisement, activism, communications and consulting. Ms. Ike has served as an advisor and counsel in the private-sector, on Capitol Hill, in local and national campaigns, and with several non-profits and grassroots organizations. Currently, Ms. Ike creates equitable strategies to improve the lives of young people in New York City.
Ms. Ike is also the Co-Creator of Black and Brown People Vote, a leading national civic engagement and participation project aimed at amplifying the votes and voices of communities of color. Prior to her current position, Ms. Ike was the Founder and Chief Problem Solver of Ike Professionals, LLC–a civic-minded social and action tank, dedicated to finding solutions to today’s social dilemmas. Ms. Ike is a frequent guest lecturer and expert who has spoken before audiences at several institutions including Harvard Law, NYU, and has appeared in several media outlets, including MSNBC, CNN, and Huffington Post. Ms. Ike is currently an adjunct professor at Lehman College.
Ms. Ike has consulted several non-profits on policy formation, program creation, and branding, including the National Council of Negro Women; US Dream Academy; JustLeadershipUSA; and the National Bar Association. She has also counseled and collaborated with families impacted by injustice, including those of Sean Bell, Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis, and Sandra Bland. Known for her timely response to domestic and international crises, Ms. Ike has created social campaigns which have received notable media attention, including “Hoodies on the Hill,” in response to the Trayvon Martin tragedy, and “The Black Male Experience”—which facilitated the creation of what is now called the My Brother’s Keeper Congressional Caucus.
Ms. Ike is an original member of the #SheWoke Committee, which was the leading thought leadership group that led to the creation of the Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls. In her spare time, Ms. Ike is a writer and is currently working on several pieces addressing faith, politics, and the plight of economically challenged communities.
Ms. Ike received her B.A. and M.A. in Communication Studies from West Virginia University; J.D. from CUNY School of Law; and LL.M., with highest honors, at The George Washington University Law School. A native of Trenton, NJ, Ms. Ike lives in Brooklyn.
Zhailon Levingston is a performing artist, writer and creative director. He co-founded #WORDSONWHITE , an arts and activism campaign which utilizes performance art and community canvases to engage audiences in conversations around social justice. He’s an artist-in-residence for the CADRA project through Columbia Law School, working to help students turn their personal narratives into performance art, as well as a committee member of the GHOSTLIGHT PROJECT; a campaign to promote civic engagement within the theatre community. He has starred in a Warby Parker eyeglass commercial which has been viewed over 1 million times online. Last year Zhailon was in the short film THE STAND which is currently playing the festival scene. Coming up Zhailon will be producing a show in the New York Musical Theatre Festival and associate directing a project with Tony Nominated director Rachel Chavkin.
Words on White is an arts campaign started by Zhailon Levingston, and Robert Newman. It began as a one night only event at the Kraine Theatre in NYC. It aimed to engage audiences in hard conversations about police criminality in the wake of the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile by resurrecting text from civil rights leaders of the past. In this event we introduced our first community canvas, which has since become a staple, giving audiences the opportunity to respond to the evening on the canvas using pen, charcoal, and marker. Since then we have done work with the Broadway Advocacy Coalition, Columbia Law School, A Broadway Foundation, Central Avenue Church in Los Angeles and Morehouse College. @wordsonwhitemovement @Zhailon @the.rdent.rtisan
OLARONKE AKINMOWO, FREE BLACK WOMEN’S LIBRARY
OlaRonke Akinmowo is a ritual artist, cultural worker, set decorator, radical mama, intuitive healer, yoga teacher and Womanist scholar whose research and artistic practice focuses on exploring the complexities of race, culture, spirituality and gender. She is also the Creator and Director of The Free Black Women’s Library, an interactive mobile trading library that features a collection of 600 books written by Black women, as well as performance, readings, film screenings, workshops and critical conversation. She has received fellowships and grants from Culture Push, The Laundromat Project, Center for Whole Communities, Brooklyn Artists Council and Citizens Committee of NY.
The Free Black Women’s Library is a mobile trading library and interactive biblio installation that features a collection of 700 books written by Black women. The library uses books to build community, and explore intersections of race, class, culture and gender while creating space to center and celebrate the voices of Black women and girls in literature. Part social art project part academic exploration, this is a salute to our brilliance, creativity, resilience and grace. This mobile library pops up monthly and mainly in public spaces throughout the borough of Brooklyn, NYC.
GIA SHAKUR, POET
Gia Shakur is a writer, editor and visual artist based in Harlem, New York. Her work has been featured in Public Pool, Sinister Wisdom, Joint Literary Magazine, and The Broadkill Review. She is a graduate fellow of The Watering Hole writing retreat, a public performance arts fellow at Betty’s Daughters Arts Collaborative, LLC. and Founder of Spider Rose and Black Inc.
ROBERT LEE NEWMAN III, VISUAL ARTIST
Robert Lee Newman III is an Artist, Activist, and Entrepreneur. In 2016 Robert decided to take his passion and love for Art into the professional arena. He started his own business selling his paintings and handcrafted jewelry and has been featured in 30+ gallery showings and Art related events across New York City. In addition to starting his own business, he is also Co-Founder Words on White, an Arts Activist Campaign created to give artist and communities a platform to discuss social issues in a constructive and therapeutic way. Robert is a graduate of Morehouse College.