In 2017, SONG launched the BLM Cohort leadership development project as a pilot in the state of North Carolina. SONG’s North Carolina BLM cohort sought to develop, sharpen, and strengthen a body of 15 Black queer, trans and gender non-conforming leaders across the state. Over the course of a year, these member-leaders have loved on, supported, and lifted up Black leadership, fortified connections to each other for the road ahead. From Asheville, Charlotte, to Durham, BLM Cohort members led work on the ground, including freeing Black mothers and caregivers from jails across the state during SONG’s Black Mama’s Bail Out Action. In the process, cohort members gained skills in healing practices, communications, base-building, and direct action campaign organizing. In 2018, the cohort transformed into a regional cohort that was made up of 50 Black queer, trans, and gender non-conforming leaders from 21 cities/towns across the Southeast; and was renamed “The Lorde’s Werq.”
This year, the Lorde’s Werq will encompass a 10-week summer organizing assignment known as the Lorde’s Werq Summer Project as part of SONG Power
We are selecting 35 Black queer, trans, and gender non-conforming leaders to build Southern Black power, advance democracy, and inspire a social revolution. During the project, members will explore and expand upon what it means to engage our communities to build a stronger, more radical tomorrow.
The reward for this work is beyond just monetary compensation. Instead, our main objective is to gain skills and build and strengthen new relationships. Our hope for this cohort is to have a transformative organizing experience that creates righteous work and leaves the local community stronger. While we expect the Lorde’s Werq Summer Project participants to bring their offerings in service to the local work, the concrete program work will be determined by local leadership in your assigned city/town. The summer assignment will last from June 1, 2020, to August 8, 2020, with a May 31st arrival date.
Participants must be able to commit to the full 10-week organizing assignment and be willing to raise funds to help cover daily living expenses. We estimate the full costs to be roughly $200 per week or $2000 for the full 10 weeks. We will also be providing a $2000 stipend to participants in addition to community housing and food (unless folks can support themselves). Travel to and from the summer project location will also be covered. If you are not able to commit to the full 10 weeks, please support the program by raising money, volunteering, sponsoring an organizer’s expenses or donating supplies.
Three Core Areas of Work
- Building Alternatives to Community Violence (ex. restorative practices, de-escalation tactics, arts & culture for sustained movement, etc.)
- Issue-based Civic Engagement (ex: canvassing to end pretrial detention, combating voter suppression, mass mobilizations, direct action, etc.)
- Political Education and Skill Building (ex: Black history, the abolition of the Prison Industrial Complex, understanding social movements, direct action, facilitation, outreach, tutoring, etc.)
- Week 1: Orientation to the local community, skill ups, relationship-building, and assignments
- Week 2-5: Doin’ the Lorde’s Werq
- Week 6: A selection of members will be sent to the M4BL Black National Convention in Milwaukee, WI to represent their local community.
- Week 7-9: Doin’ the Lorde’s Werq
- Week 10: Closing Celebration
- OPTIONAL Week 11: 7th Annual Gaycation, August 13th to 16th (free registration!)
Our goal is to have a summer cohort of 35 people from across the region.
If you have any questions about the application process, please contact Shahidah Jones at shahidah [at] southernersonnewground.org