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For Freedoms Community Conversation » Freedom of Speech
In honor of our newest temporary exhibition, Hank Willis Thomas: All Things Being Equal… and the ongoing efforts of For Freedoms, Crystal Bridges presents a series of four community conversations to deepen our understanding of issues affecting Northwest Arkansas communities.
We invite you to participate in these conversations with a diverse group of local speakers including artists, city officials, and community leaders in the sharing of personal stories and work in relation to the topic. Each event will focus on one of the four freedoms, asking universal questions to spark conversation such as: “What does truth mean to you? What does an adequate standard of living mean to you? What does safety mean to you? What does love mean to you?”
The stories shared in this program are meant to bring different voices from the community together in a shared non-partisan space. All are welcome to participate and we ask you to come with a spirit of reciprocity.
In this Community Conversation:
Freedom of Speech will be viewed through the frame of “What does it mean to speak your truth?” Speakers and audience members will be asked to recall a time when you first understood what speaking your truth meant, and to reflect on how that experience helped frame the way you saw/see the world. Universal questions may include: How does art challenge or demonstrate truth? What impact does freedom of speech have on someone else’s truth?
This conversation will be led by the following speakers:
- Rev. Sekou, Memphis-based musician of the Freedom Fighters band and artist from For Freedoms Collective
- Srividya Venkatasubramanya, President of Ra-Ve Cultural Foundation, a local Indian performing arts organization
- Stephanie Orman, Mayor of Bentonville
- Rebecca Ellis, Bentonville High School student who participated in the gun violence walkouts
This event is free with online registration and registered attendees will receive a FREE admission ticket to Hank Willis Thomas: All Things Being Equal… at the event. The programs will be moderated by fellows from the University of Arkansas IDEALS Institute.
Please note that a Crystal Bridges member will be taking photos and videos at this event. This footage may be used for internal purposes, such as promoting the next event or archiving. If you would prefer not to be photographed or recorded, you may opt out at the event.
Rev. Osagyefo Uhuru Sekou is a noted activist, theologian, author, documentary filmmaker, and musician, born in St. Louis, Missouri and raised in rural Arkansas Delta. Rev. Sekou’s music is a unique combination of Arkansas Delta Blues, Memphis Soul 1970s funk, and Gospel. A leading public intellectual, Rev. Sekou written two collection of essays. Urbansouls: Meditations on Youth, Hip Hop, and Religion” and “Gods, Gays, and Guns: Essays on Religion and the Future of Democracy”. He has written widely on the 2011 killing of Mark Duggan by British police and the subsequent London riots, and is the author of the forthcoming “Riot Music: Race, Hip Hop and the Meaning of the London Riots 2011” (Hamilton Books).
Srividya Venkatasubramanya came to the USA two decades ago, newly married with two master’s degrees in hand in the teaching of Spanish as a Foreigh Language from Spain and an Hispanic Studies degree from India. Settling down in a new country, balancing two cultures and the questions of her children born and growing up in the USA has kept her on her toes ever since.
Mayor Stephanie Orman is starting her second year in office. Stephanie has been married to Terry for over 20 years, and a Bentonville resident for over 15 years. They have 2 children, Taylor and Landry. Providing transparent communication has been one of Mayor Orman’s top priorities during her first year in office. Some of her new initiatives include City of Bentonville becoming active on 3 social media outlets, the Great Neighborhood initiative, and the Bentonville 311 communication system that connects citizens to city services. Stephanie is a graduate of the University of Arkansas and received her graduate degree from Southwest Missouri State. Prior to being elected Mayor of Bentonville, she had a 20+ year career in the marketing industry, and served 2 terms on the Bentonville City Council.
Rebecca Ellis is a current senior at Bentonville High School, attempts to foster change, a sense of effusivity, and play an active role in the further development of her community. She is diligently involved in many clubs, most prominently including Speech and Debate, and has a strong association with Crystal Bridges through the internship program of Teen Council Leadership. In the future, Rebecca hopes to work for the Department of Health and Human Services of the USFG as a Children’s Defensive Lawyer for the Foster Care System.
Photo credit: PHOTOGRAPHS BY HANK WILLIS THOMAS + EMILY SHUR. COURTESY OF FOR FREEDOMS.