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    Mayor collaborates with local poet for stay-at-home message

    Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome partnered with Baton Rouge poet Donney Rose to release a spoken word poem about the coronavirus pandemic. Rose is a writer, essayist, poet, teaching artist, and activist.

    Broome and Rose encourage the community to, “slow our roll,” and, “imagine us banning together by staying apart.” To watch the video, visit: https://youtu.be/L1IbPL-9uDI

    “As someone who is a lifelong resident of Baton Rouge, a community advocate and someone who is identified as being immunocompromised from pre-existing conditions, it is important to me to offer words of inspiration and caution to my fellow Baton Rougeans,” said Rose. “COVID-19 is indiscriminate of who it attacks but it is especially damaging to marginalized communities, and so I feel it is a part of my obligation as a trusted voice for many to speak truth to power about the times we’re in and how we move beyond this.”

    Broome encourages influencers in the Baton Rouge community to emphasize the importance of physical distancing during the coronavirus pandemic.

    “Donney Rose is more than just a poet; he is someone who can connect with our community and advocate for the importance of adhering to mitigation efforts,” said  Broome.

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    ‘THE AMERICAN AUDIT’ exposes America as a 400-year old business and its toll on Black humanity

    Baton Rouge spoken-word artist and activist Donney Rose has amassed more than 2,000 travel miles conducting hours of interviews and days of research in order to create an epic narrative that unravels 400 years of American History.

    It is an ambitious presentation called The America Audit where Rose explores America as a business and exposes its toll on Black citizens fiscally, spiritually, judicially, emotionally, and socially.

    To do so, Kennedy Center Citizen Artist Fellow committed up to 15 hours a week for a year to complete this “audit.”

    “I am going all in,” Rose said, “The poem is one epic poem broken into nine different parts which all begin with a technical term used in an audit.”

    Last year, he performed excerpts of The American Audit at the 2019 Arts Summit of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the University of Northern Iowa, and Festival of Words in Grand Coteau.

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    To pull together photographs, videos, and audio records he collected for this performance, Rose interviewed researchers and activists including Michael ‘Quess’ Moore, who co-founded Take ‘Em Down NOLA; Maxine Crump, CEO of Dialogue on Race-Louisiana; Chris Tyson, president of Build Baton Rouge, Jason Perkins, Ph.D., professors Eva Baham and Lori Martin; LSU history chairman Aaron Sheehan-Dean, Ph.D.; Southern University law professor Angela Allen-Bell; historian Thomas Durant, and many others, he said.

    The Jozef Syndicate asked Rose to share more on The American Audit which will showcase 7pm on Feb 28 at the Manship Theatre in Baton Rouge.

    JS: American Audit is described as a multimedia, spoken word project that chronicles 400 years of Black American life using the extended metaphor of America as a business audited by African Americans (today). How else do you describe it to others? 

    ROSE: This has been my general explanation but I additionally add that it’s not just an exploration of financial/fiscal aspects of Black labor and humanity being audited, it’s also an exploration of the social, emotional, physical and psychological toll of the African-American experience and what findings come up when doing a deep dive into all of those layers

    JS: How did you decide on this topic and why multimedia?

    ROSE: In late 2018, I began thinking about the pending 400 year anniversary of the first documented enslaved Africans being brought to Jamestown. I knew that there would be several writings, discussions etc. about this historical milestone and wanted to find an artistic lens to approach it. Seeing that enslaved Africans were brought to this land under the guise of economics, I figured what better way to approach the topic than by writing about a fictional audit being done. The multimedia aspect of it was to expand my presentation. After 20 years of performing poetry, I didn’t want to just get behind a mic and perform this content. I wanted to do a deeper dive that would allow me to talk to history and cultural experts and display those discussions interwoven with the performative text.

    JS: Why this topic now? 

    ROSE: The plan was to have the project finished for 2019 to be in accordance with the commemorative year. There were a few setbacks that did not allow that to manifest, but I knew there would still be relevance going into this year. I have previewed excerpts of the project in various settings and the consensus is that is timely and very relevant to the times we are in.

    JS: Is this a stand-alone project of Donney Rose or connected to Black Out Loud?

    ROSE: The project is a stand-alone, however, components of it are likely to be incorporated in future Black Out Loudprogramming.

    JS: How did you know you wanted to do this work?

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    ROSE: What I really knew was that I wanted to push my artistry beyond the confines I had set for myself. Over the last few years, I have become a much more avid reader and cultural observer of politics and social behavior and how we, as Black Americans, respond to structural and systemic facets of our lives that were created beyond our control.

    JS: Before performing your poem “New Definitions,” you said a continuum of one conversation of Blackness is vital and necessary. What is that conversation and does this project contribute to it? 

    ROSE: I believe that the continuum of the conversation referenced is a continual deep dive into our humanity. So much of Black oppression has been rooted in dehumanization. Which is to say if you can convince African Americans that somehow their existence is less than, you can continue to marginalize them is a variety of ways. The American Audit absolutely gets to the root of dehumanization and explores the why and how.

    JS: What was the most interesting place (physically) that this project has taken you? How would you describe it?

    ROSE: Very early I visited the Whitney Plantation and that was a fascinating visit because of our tour guide. It was interesting to see just how vital sugar cane was to the area, because typically when we think slave labor we default to the idea of cotton being picked. I would say one of the other more interesting places I visited was the Federal Reserve of Philadelphia. It’s an interesting museum that details the how and why of currency production. There weren’t explicit displays about slavery there but it was easy to connect certain dots when you saw information about the origins of American currency.

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    JS: What was the most provocative discovery you made? How is it presented in the project?

    ROSE: Some of the most striking imagery comes by way of two visits to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington DC. It’s such a visually stunning museum to visit and it allowed me to gain access to gripping images I would not have gotten anywhere else. The writing, in general, is pretty provocative as I am more or less trying to make a case for America as a metaphorical business to undergo an audit for its treatment of Black people.

    JS: Have you experienced frustration in creating this project? How do you work through the harder parts?

    ROSE: I have had moments in which I have wondered if I am being complete and exact in the writing, but I’ve had to understand that this one project will not be the answer to generations of inequity or dehumanization. That there will always be interrogations of this country by various people who are curious or bold enough to question it for what it is.

    JS: Who’s helped produce this and to what capacity?

    ROSE: My main co-creator is Steven Baham. He is doing videography work filming all the interviews and assisting with storyboarding/editing the final product. Leslie Rose has also been instrumental in doing photography work for a lion share of the images.

    JS: Is there a call to action with this work? 

    ROSE: There’s not necessarily a ‘call to action’ per se. The project is mostly a creative analysis of what this nation has been to and for Black people. Framed through the lens of economics because money, finance, and wealth are universal in the sense that this country consists of people who either have it or who are striving for prosperity.

    JS: Where does The American Audit go from here?

    ROSE: Hopefully the performance goes to other parts of the country. After the February 28th debut, a few more interviews will be conducted, ideally with scholars, experts, and activists out of state.

    JS: Audre Lorde wrote, “We must wake up knowing we have work to do and go to bed knowing we’ve done it.” With the work you’ve desired for the American Audit, do you get to point of being “done”?

    ROSE: For this particular project, yes.

    ONLINE:
    Instagram: the_american_audit
    www.manshiptheatre.org
    Donneyrosepoetry.com
    email Booking@donneyrosepoetry.com

    By Candace J. Semien
    Jozef Syndicate reporter

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    Registration opens for first Underground Railroad to Justice Summit

    Grassroots activists will gather on Feb. 7 for the Disrupting the Injustice Narrative: The Inaugural Underground Railroad to Justice Summit at Southern University Law Center for a daylong training open to the public.

    Activists will teach citizens, social workers, lawyers, and students how to navigate obstacles that they face as victims of Louisiana’s criminal justice system or advocates for justice-impacted individuals. The following panels will present:

    Becoming a Legislative or Policy Advocate
    Terry Landry Jr., SPLC
    Will Harrell, VOTE

    Watchdogs
    Becoming a Mental Health Watchdog
    Rev. Alexis Anderson, PREACH

    Becoming a Solitary Confinement Watchdog
    Katie Swartzmann, ACLU

    Becoming a Watchdog for Children of Justice-Impacted Parents
    Bree Anderson, DBI

    Social Workers as Watchdogs
    Ben Robertson, SUNO

    Becoming a Grand Jury Watchdog
    The Kennon Sisters

    Becoming a Felony Voting Rights Watchdog
    Checo Yancy, VOTE

    Becoming a Bail Reform Watchdog
    *Speaker Unconfirmed

    Getting the Ear of the Media
    Jeff Thomas, Think504
    Gary Chambers, The Rouge Collection

    Keynote Address by Calvin Duncan

    Using Art to Advocate
    Kristen Downing
    Kevin McQuarn
    Donney Rose

    Responding to Prosecutorial Misconduct
    Jee Parks, IPNO
    Harry Daniels
    William Snowden, Vera Institute for Justice New Orleans

    FREE continuing legal education credit will be offered for lawyers who attend the entire day and register by Jan. 15.

    FREE continuing education units will be offered for social workers who attend the entire day and register by Jan. 15.

    FREE lunch to those who register by Jan. 15.

    This event is jointly hosted by the Louis A. Berry Civil Rights and Justice Institute at SULC and the Center for African and African American Studies at SUNO.

    Register: http://www.sulc.edu/form/356

    ONLINE: SULC

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    Interview with Donney Rose on Black Out Loud

    The Black Out Loud Conference, to be held in Baton Rouge Aug. 10-12, is a three-day event designed to celebrate Black visibility in the realm of the arts, media and activism and to assist participants with tools and resources to better push their narratives from outside the margins to center. Spearheaded by poet, teaching artist, and activist, Donney Rose – Black Out Loud draws its name from Rose’s Feb. 2017 book of the same name that celebrated Black American culture.

    Q: What inspired the concept of the Black Out Loud Conference?
    A: Last year I was writing a bunch of Facebook posts in celebration of Black culture during Black History Month (Feb. 2017). Those posts shaped into a book of prose at the request and support of my online community. Because the posts were in tribute to celebrating the often ignored/misrepresented identities within Black American culture, I began to think about what would a whole gathering of people looked like if it was centered around the idea of spotlighting the stories of marginalized people.

    Q: Why is this conference important for Baton Rouge?
    A: Baton Rouge is my hometown and the place that fostered all of my perspective around race/race relations, for better or worse. It is a city that is home to many progressive, liberation-minded individuals, but also steeped in cultural norms of bigotry, racism and exclusion. It is not enough for a select few ‘exceptional’ Black people to have their voices amplified, but for a larger swath of the Black population to feel emboldened to tell and live their truths, void of those truths being misinterpreted or co-opted for someone else’s benefit. Because Baton Rouge is home to two large universities and a city that has an influx of revolving residents, many of whom are young people of color, it is important for those people to be able to see this city be a place that is not just tolerant of them, but one that validates their existence and their stories.

    Q: Who are some of the key people involved in Black Out Loud?
    A: We have a core team of people planning the conference who bring various levels of expertise to the table in the realms of funding development, public relations, talent management and volunteerism. The main conference day, Aug. 11, will feature a keynote address by Van Lathan of TMZ, who had one of the biggest moments in Black America in 2018 when he argued with Kanye West about his views on slavery. In addition, we are bringing in workshop facilitators and panelists who are experts in the fields of art, media and activism to talk about and share best practices with participants about controlling their narrative/making sure their struggle is not dismissed.

    Q: What is the role of non-Black people who seek to be involved in the conference?

    A: You do not have to be an African American, but you should be aware that the center piece of this conference is the Black narrative. Meaning that if a non-Black participant is engaging with Black Out Loud, their plan should be to learn and engage, but not to seek to center themselves. We have had non-Black people sign up to volunteer and the idea with volunteerism from non-Black people (specifically white volunteers) is one in which their volunteerism is truly from a place of supportive service and not from a place of taking up visibility or centering themselves.

    Q: Where can people go to find more information?
    A: The central information hub is the Black Out Loud Conference 2018 Facebook page. We also have a Twitter and Instagram account (@blackoutloudbr). Questions can be sent to blackoutloudbr@gmail.com. A website is forthcoming, but all information including registration, volunteerism, sponsorship etc. can be accessed from the FB page

    Donney Rose is a poet, teaching artist, and community activist from Baton Rouge. He is the marketing director for the arts-based non-profit, Forward Arts, Inc., where he also works as a teaching artist facilitating creative writing workshops in various Greater Baton Rouge Area schools. Donney holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing from Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rouge. He is the co-host of Drawl, a Southern spoken word podcast. In April 2018, Donney became a 2018-2019 Kennedy Center Citizen Artist Fellow. 

When not facilitating workshops, Donney hones his own craft of writing and performing poetry. He is the author of The Crying Buck, an acclaimed chapbook of poetry that delves into Black masculinity and vulnerability through a critical lens, and Black Out Loud, a collection of prose-style poetic interpretations of Black History Month 2017. His work as a performance poet/writer has been featured in a variety of publications, including Atlanta Black Star, Blavity, Button Poetry, All Def Digital, Slam Find, [225], Drunk In A Midnight Choir, and Nicholls State University’s Gris-Gris literary journal. Donney also contributed two scholarly articles to the St. James Encyclopedia of Hip Hop Culture, 1st Edition (St. James Press, February 2018) 

While Donney has always used his voice to entertain, uplift, and inspire — a true community activist emerged in the summer of 2016. Baton Rouge had become the familiar scene that so many American cities have experienced, with the shooting death of a black man by a Baton Rouge Police officer. Donney not only acted immediately, but he has remained a pivotal community voice through the turmoil, sharing his thoughts to bring light to to his city on local, national, and international platforms, including BBC, HuffPost, The New York Times, PBS’ Democracy Now, and The Advocate. In the week’s following the widely publicized incident, protests and militarized policing took over Baton Rouge, followed by the killings of several Baton Rouge law enforcement officers, and finally by a thousand-year flood encompassing much of Louisiana. Donney gave his voice to these causes, most notably contributing to the Fight the Flood album, a project by various artists to benefit the Capital Area United Way’s flood relief projects. And while all of this was occurring, Donney was experiencing a very personal loss with the passing of a beloved and promising student, for whom he has worked to honor through dedicated community work.  

He is a member of the 2017 Greater Baton Rouge Business Report Forty under 40 class, the recipient of the Ink Festival’s inaugural Making a Mark award (2017, Tupelo, Miss.), and New Venture Theatre’s 2016 Humanitarian of the Year award. Donney lives in his hometown of Baton Rouge with his wife and fellow writer, Leslie, and their twin cats, Jalen and Derrick. 

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  • Rose selected for national recognition at The Kennedy Center

    Baton Rouge poet and teaching artist, Donney Rose, has been selected for the 2018-1019 Kennedy Center Citizen Artist Fellow Recognition. The Kennedy Center Citizen Artist Fellow Recognition is an award that highlights Citizen Artists across the country who utilize their art form for positive impact on communities and who live up to the ideals of service, justice, freedom, courage and gratitude that are inspired by President John F. Kennedy’s legacy.

    As part of the recognition program, Rose will attend the 2018 Kennedy Center Arts Summit, “The Future States of America: Using the Arts to Take Us Where We Want to Go,”  April 15-16, held in Washington, D.C. He is also invited to collaborate, share practices, and receive mentorship from Kennedy Center artistic partners and staff at the Kennedy Center Citizen Artist Fellows Retreat, tentatively confirmed for Sept. 21-24. He will receive ongoing professional development opportunities with Kennedy Center staff and partners; information regarding national convenings to attend, potential grant applications, and other resources from top partners such as the Aspen Institute, National Endowment for the Arts, ArtChangeUS, and Citizen University. Rose is also invited to attend, present, and participate in Kennedy Center’s 2019 Arts Summit.

    Rose was nominated for the fellowship by Maida Owens, Louisiana Folklife Director, Louisiana Division of the Arts. The nomination process included recommendation letters from which Rose received high praise in varying areas of his work by attorney and LSU Law professor, Chris Tyson; former Louisiana Poet Laureate Ava Leavell Haymon; LSU English professor Sue Weinstein Ph.D.; Love Alive Church pastor Ronaldo Hardy; and Humanities Amped co-founder Anna West, Ph.D.

    Rose began his work as a poet through spoken word and competing nationally in poetry slams. A graduate of Scotlandville Magnet High School, Rose has always sought ways to better his hometown and as such, is invested in the city’s youth development scene. He began working in youth development in 2008 through Louisiana Delta Service Corps. He has worked full time as a teaching artist and marketing director for Forward Arts, Inc. for nearly a decade. He was named to The Drum‘s Men to Watch in 2015 and  Business Report’s Top Forty under 40 class in 2017. He was the recipient of the inaugural Making a Mark award at the 2017 Ink Festival (Tupelo, Miss.) and the 2016 Humanitarian of the Year award from New Venture Theatre. His writing has been featured on Button Poetry, All Def Digital, and in Nicholls State’s Gris Gris literary journal. Following the turmoil of Baton Rouge’s summer of 2016, Rose was a pivotal voice in the community and was interviewed by the BBC, Democracy Now, the New York Times, Huffington Post, and The Advocate.

     

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    Support turns Facebook postings into published book

    When local writer and teacher, Donney Rose, set out to pay homage to the vastness of Black identities during Black History Month, he had no idea how much his community would support his month-long social media project. Each day in Feb. 2017, Rose dedicated a Facebook post to a prose-style “shout-out” in recognition of the distinctive characteristics of present day Blackness. As the public posts gained more and more attention, Rose’s online friends began to suggest that he compile the posts to create a tangible product. Through this suggestion, the online community crowd-sourced funds to create what is now “Black Out Loud” – a 33-page, glossy cover paperback book with cover art by local visual artist Antoine Mitchell. 

    “Black Out Loud” gives recognition to many of the unsung heroes and survivors of Black culture through humor, critical analysis and depth. From cafeteria ladies to “hood scholars” to former inmates to historians, “Black Out Loud” casts a wide net in its attempt to deconstruct any monolithic view of the Black American experience.

    Donney Rose

    Donney Rose



    Rose has several scheduled upcoming book talks where he will read from “Black Out Loud,” as well as discuss its content, creation process and logic. The first two talks will be held on June 10 – the first at 1 p.m. at the inaugural IWE Festival at Southern University, followed by a talk at the Greenwell Springs Branch Library at 4 p.m. On June 17, Rose will present at the annual Juneteenth Freedom Festival held in downtown Baton Rouge, and on July 14, he will read at Love Alive Church.  

    “Black Out Loud” can be purchased online at Lulu.com, or in-person for $15.

    Rose is a poet and community activist from Baton Rouge. He works as a teaching artist and marketing director for the arts-based non-profit, Forward Arts, Inc. His work as a performance poet/writer has been featured online at Atlanta Black Star.com, Blavity.com, Button Poetry, All Def Digital, Slam Find, in 225 magazine, and the literary journals “Drunk in a Midnight Choir” and Nicholls State’s “Gris Gris.» His work as a community activist has been highlighted by BBC, New York Times, Democracy Now and The Advocate. He received the Humanitarian of the Year award at the 2016 New V Awards for promoting activism through his art.
     

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