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The Project

How simple a thing it seems to me that to know ourselves as we are, we must know our mothers' names. -Alice Walker

Despite efforts to diversify curriculums and expose young people to a variety of histories and cultures, it is quite likely that a Black girl will graduate high school without closely examining, let alone contributing to, the remarkable landscape of Black art. This is no small matter. 

Should they depend on social media, popular music, or television for their identity, Black girls will undoubtedly conclude they're ugly, "ghetto," angry, intimidating, or unworthy. The creative work crafted by Black women and other artists who honor them serves as a shield from such vitriol and as a reminder that Black girls stand on the shoulders of geniuses from any artistic genre imaginable. 

And still, our daughters are more than their skin, their hair, their hips, and even their experiences. There is a place beyond race, gender and story. It lives at their core. The spirit is so often abandoned for limiting lenses like girl, woman, and Black, and American culture tends not to encourage introspection. Black girls are fighting to exist in a blaming world that often cripples them with finger-pointing tactics. Inquiry and mindfulness are instrumental to self-actualization. A Revolutionary Summer recognizes this and strives to achieve a host of academic goals with essential spiritual objectives in tow. 

A Revolutionary Summer is an intensive critical reading and writing program dedicated to shifting harmful narratives about Black women and girls through both the meaningful study and creation of art and the deliberate application of self-inquiry. We exist to keep Black girls whole, to balance the scales, to offer up a Nobel Laureate, radical painter, love song, and afro picked to perfection for every stupid, shallow representation of her. A Revolutionary Summer validates Black girl language and Black girl thought, Black girl hair and Black girl thighs. It traces, analyzes, justifies, and celebrates Black girl herstory. It contributes forcefully, unapologetically to a sound and solid Black girl future. (Otherwise, it will need to get busy gathering Black girl bones.)

A Revolutionary Summer is located in Baltimore, Maryland.

In addition to falling in love with themselves, daughters of A Revolutionary Summer:

  • Engage in the critical analysis of complex, worthy texts, films, albums, photographs, and paintings.

  • Develop discursive and intuitive writing skills.

  • Listen to understand, analyze, and evaluate, but also to prepare and protect. 

  • Speak with the assumption that what they say bears fruit.  

  • Use their Goddess-given voices, trembling or sturdy or whatever is true. Never mind whispering, never mind ducking, never mind passivity or aggressiveness designed to cover-up fear.

  • Identify, analyze and work to do away with oppressive values they buy into. 

  • Make self-loving decisions on a moment-by-moment basis. 

  • Practice stillness, breath control, and simple meditation.

  • Form strong connections among peers through personal and global experiences—that is discover the sweet, selective, sublime sisterhood that grows from those planted in the same pot.   

The Rollout

My shoes had sky-blue bottoms to them, and I was riding off to look at the belly-band of the world.

-Zora Neale Hurston

For eight Sundays every summer up to 21 young women gather to experience and discuss the creative works of consequential Black woman artists. They will do so under the guidance of author and facilitator Andria Nacina Cole.

Workshops begin promptly at noon and end at 4PM. Each session concludes with a yoga class. Light snacks and refreshments are provided. 

Daughters are gifted personal libraries and a month's subscription to Netflix. They are encouraged to participate in the end-of-summer performance. They may earn up to a $500 stipend for enthusiastic completion of the program. 

The Goals

It now had been laid to my charge to keep my own heart free of hatred and despair. -James Baldwin

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Daughters should be prepared to share a bit of themselves (the creative parts, and perhaps, the personal ones); to discuss, enthusiastically and seriously Black art; to dedicate energy and effort to the completion of thought-provoking writing projects; to reflect on their experiences—both those spurred by the work and those galvanized by their peers; to practice meditation and mindfulness; and to illustrate their own creative powers in an end-of-summer performance. Upon acceptance into the program, daughters will receive a course outline, but they can effectively expect to:

  • Come to discussions prepared to interpret, analyze, and evaluate what they’ve read, watched, heard or otherwise experienced.

  • Answer questions essential to each creative work and apply those answers to authentic circumstances.

  • Acquire new vocabulary words and vocabulary acquisition strategies so that they are better able to articulate their thinking and give their rich inner lives proper due.

  • Learn to expertly summarize a text by calling on a variety of reading strategies, and gather from this synthesis of skills that a clear, deep, wide understanding of an idea increases likelihood that it will be owned, pondered meaningfully, and employed elsewhere.

  • Wield the power of context—that is, dissect and appreciate their first impression of a particular word choice, paragraph, event, character, idea, image, or sound, but never settle for the initial thought. Instead, throw the foundational perspective up against others—those that are bigger, those that are smaller, more complicated, and less comfortable, all in the deliberate effort to understand. 

  • Imitate the distinctive writing styles of the authors under study in order to hone their own budding skills and to learn the importance of taking creative risks.

  • Produce written, oral and performance products that aptly reflect their understanding of the work under study, the world, and themselves.

  • Practice, through mindfulness and meditation, abandoning their personal pasts and futures to fully embrace the present and their authentic selves. 

  • Present artistically the concepts gained and lessons learned at ARS's closing ceremony.