The full title of the two-day conference at Scarritt-Bennett Center is Sojourn/ing Women: Bold Voices Then and Now, and keynote speakers Ayoka Chenzira and HaJ perfectly embody the ethos implied therein. Chenzira is a writer, film producer and director of the influential Hair Piece: A Film for Nappyheaded People. Her daughter HaJ is an Emmy-nominated film, video and media producer, and the two have teamed up on HERadventure, a project that interweaves sci-fi film, gaming and social media to tell the story of a reluctant hero drawn into a mission to save the Earth. Speaking of reluctant heroes, local activist Remziya Suleyman never thought she'd become a community organizer and lobbyist, but anti-Muslim legislation proposed in the state legislature served as a wake-up call — and she's been tireless ever since as director of policy and research for the American Center for Outreach. Suleyman will give a talk titled "Struggling to Find My Voice: the Call to Political Activism of an American-Muslim Woman in the South."
Emilie M. Townes, dean of the Vanderbilt Divinity School and the first African-American woman elected to the presidential line of the American Academy of Religion, will also speak. Townes wrote movingly of her marriage for the Huffington Post in June 2012: "We are both clear that we do not to conform to the standard text of marriage, but we want to find ways to [breathe] new air and life into what it means to be married not only by the state, but even more so in the eyes of the Holy Spirit; to be committed for a life time; and to grow old and be those kind of old ladies that we so admired when we were children — truth tellers, wise, independent, but fiercely engaged in the communities they were a part of."
Other scheduled speakers include: Beverly Bond, professor of African American History at the University of Memphis; Nancy Lynne Westfield, religious education professor at Drew Theological Seminary; and Paula Larke, dramatist, writer and musician and modern-day djali (West African village chronicler). UPDATE: Postponed. New dates are April 4-5, 2014, at Scarritt-Bennett. More information at scarrittbennett.org/programs/sw.aspx.
Sept. 20-22: African Street Festival
This annual celebration of diasporic African culture rings in its 31st year with a program bustling with spoken word, dance and food, including music ranging from blues to reggae, jazz to neo-soul. A children's pavilion features arts, crafts and storytelling, and a block party opens the festivities on Friday night. Hadley Park, on 28th Avenue North
Sept. 21: Hands On Nashville Day
A banner day for Music City's volunteer spirit, Hands On Nashville Day sends dozens of crews out to tackle landscaping, painting, and cleaning projects at schools around Davidson County. A $25 donation is requested to help HON fund its year-round volunteer efforts, but the most important contribution is effort. For more information on the real meaning of "sweat equity," go to hon.org/HONday.
Sept. 23: First Choice Festival
Metro Nashville Public Schools presents "a chance for families and community members to explore all of the options" within Nashville's school system. Representatives from district and charter schools will be on hand, along with MNPS representatives who will help guide parents through the school choice selection process. 4:30 p.m. at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds
Sept. 28: Conexión AmÉricas Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration
To celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, Conexión Américas hosts its annual party, starting things off with a ceremony to honor winning entries in the annual "My Hispanic Roots, My American Dream" contest for high school students. Then, a fiesta with live music, authentic Latin American food and more. Tickets are $50 in advance. 6 p.m. at the Cannery Ballroom
Oct. 5: Celebrate Nashville Cultural Festival at Centennial Park
With musical performances on seven stages ranging from Aztec to klezmer, and more than 60 food vendors serving up everything from paletas to pakora, Celebrate Nashville just might be the city's most diverse event. And that's not even counting the "global village," world goods market and the designated kids/teen areas. 10 a.m at Centennial Park; more info at celebratenashville.org
Oct. 5: Nashville AIDS Walk
The yearly 5K walk and run — kid- and dog-friendly, and featuring a midday concert — helps fund Nashville CARES and its tireless and essential year-round work in care, counseling, education and advocacy for Nashvillians living with HIV/AIDS and their families. And this year Tiffany is playing! 10 a.m. at Riverfront Park; more info at www.nashvilleaidswalk.com
Oct. 16: Ain't I a Woman: Laverne Cox at Vanderbilt
As part of National Coming Out Week festivities, the Vanderbilt Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex Life presents Laverne Cox, the actor, activist and star of the Netflix series Orange Is the New Black, on which she plays Sophia Burset, a transgender woman. Cox will discuss the intersections of race, gender and class as they affected her upbringing in Mobile, Ala., and subsequent career pursuits. 7 p.m. in the Vanderbilt Student Life Center Conference Center
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