Community-driven effort out to shatter shackles of past

Telfair Museum and Deep Center Present “Black Prisms: Color Bending”

Speak up, rise up, and come together for a good cause July 24 with Telfair Museum and the Deep Center’s Slam Team for “Black Prisms: Color Bending,” an interactive spoken word and audio experience.

As part of Telfair Museums’ ongoing “Legacy of Slavery in Savannah” initiative, Deep Center and Telfair have partnered together to host “Black Prisms: Color Bending” Saturday, July 24 at the Jepson Center for the Arts Museum. The event that will feature local youth artists exploring generational stories and shattering the shackles of the past using the power of light, movement, culture and voice.

With similar missions at their core, Telfair Museum and Deep Center both work to develop awareness, understanding, and appreciation of the arts and serve as dynamic cultural connectors, bringing together people of all ages and backgrounds.

In September 2019, Telfair Museums launched the “Legacy of Slavery in Savannah” Initiative. The initiative, a multifaceted project seeking to engage local Savannahians, artists, scholars, and activists, considers how the legacies of slavery still manifest in our city and what we can do to work toward justice.

Their interdisciplinary effort examines the historical roots of present-day conditions of racial inequality and uncovers dimensions of the black freedom struggle that remains underexplored: how the region’s black residents’ political, economic, social, cultural and educational pursuits have been shaped by persistent racial discrimination whose roots stretch back to slavery.

Telfair’s initiative has included community partnerships, in-person and virtual events, and exhibitions running now through its culmination with a national symposium in October 2022. Ahmauri Williams-Alford, the Telfair curator overseeing the “Legacy of Slavery in Savannah” initiative, believes in order to understand our present, we must confront our country’s troubled past. By joining forces, Telfair Museum and Deep Center will highlight their missions and spread awareness throughout the community.

“While slavery technically ended more than 150 years ago, its legacy continued through Jim Crow to inequalities we see today,” Williams-Alford said. “This unique, community-driven effort is a collaboration with other organizations like the Deep Center to engage Savannahians, artists and scholars to confront our troubled past as we seek to understand our present.”

Founded in Savannah in 2008, Deep Center is a nonprofit organization with one mission in mind - empowering Savannah’s young people to thrive as learners, community leaders and agents of change. With two leadership teams as pathways - The Slam Team and Action Research Team - Deep’s youth collaborate with adult artist-allies to learn how to tell their stories powerfully, celebrate their neighborhoods, elevate Savannah’s forgotten narratives and find their place in history and current events.

“This year, our ATAs and youth artists were given the task of designing a show inspired by the LOS initiative,” said Marquice Williams, Deep Center’s program manager. “Calling themselves Black Prisms and taking the legacy of our shared trauma to refract a rainbow of resilience, lived experiences, and cultural knowledge; I believe that each piece they have produced for the showcase resonates with this wisdom.”

Since their founding, Deep Center has supported more than 3,800 young people with fully funded scholarships to their creative-writing, arts, and leadership programs. They published more than 100 anthologies of youth work, trained more than 270 local writing mentors, hosted live readings reaching diverse audiences of 10,000 and shared Savannah’s stories around the nation.

“Black Prisms” will run from 6:30- 8:30 p.m. with doors opening at 5:30 p.m. Preregistration is required and seating is limited. For information and to register, visit telfair.org/los.

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