As part of Ashé Cultural Arts Center’s week-long programming in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the National Day of Racial Healing, I am New Orleans will host “Reckoning & Release: A Community Conversation About Healing,” beginning at 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 20. 

This intergenerational panel will virtually discuss disparities of racial, economic, climate and health justice.

“Through this event, Ashé Cultural Arts Center is encouraging Black, Brown and Indigenous communities to manifest a new way of collective being,” said Asali DeVan Ecclesiastes, chief equity officer at Efforts of Grace/Ashé Cultural Arts Center, a partner of I am New Orleans“This conversation will explore the path forward to a more just and equitable world and enable the next generation of artists, activists and organizers to discuss their hopes and dreams for the future.”

The event is part of I am New Orleans, a community-led effort designed to inspire conversation and action in creating a more equitable city for its children and families. This is the first community conversation in 2022 and will set the table for other panels in the year.

“Reckoning & Release: A Community Conversation About Healing” will be moderated by media personality Kelder Summers. Panelists include Kalamu Ya Salaam, New Orleans author and cultural anthropologist; Gia Hamilton, executive director and chief curator at the New Orleans African American Museum of Art, Culture and History; Brideisha Harness-Parker, founder of the New Orleans Youth Coalition; and Morgan Walker, president, and organizer of Morgan Walker Productions and Bike N Vote NOLA. 

The event also will feature a youth panel moderated by Sharita Sims, curator, facilitator, writer, publishing artist, photographer/videographer, doula and holistic wellness activist.

“New Orleans youth face many traumas before the age of 18,” says Sims. “This event will enable their voices to be heard so we, as a community, can support our youth and their success in life.”

Youth panelists include Akilah Toney, published writer, poet, dancer, photographer and youth advocate; Anne-Marie Boseman, visual artist majoring in computer science at Dillard University; Carter Mayberry, mixed-media artist focused on styling, creative direction and digital content creation; and Empress Brooks, writer, poet, dancer, artist and activist.

“Reckoning & Release: A Community Conversation About Healing,” aims to challenge the idea of “going back to normal” amongst the COVID-19 pandemic. Black and Brown communities have historically struggled with employment, health, education and incarceration. For example, according to the Urban League of Louisiana’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, pre-COVID-19, the unemployment level in New Orleans for White residents was 5 percent. For Black residents, it was 15 percent. As a new normal begins and racial healing continues, open and honest discussion is at the forefront of transformative and sustainable change.

For more information about “Reckoning & Release: A Community Conversation About Healing,” or to register, please visit

To view the project’s scheduled events, visit or Ashé Cultural Arts Center’s social platforms (Facebook @Ashé Cac; Instagram @ashe_cac; Twitter @ashe_cac) and using the hashtag #IamNewOrleans. 

I am New Orleans is supported by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. For a complete list of community partners, visit

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