all of it's work, culture and spirituality are integral components"
Southern Rural Black Women's Initiative for Economic and Social Justice
(SRBWI) promotes the first human rights agenda in the United States aimed
at eradicating historical race, class, cultural, religious and gender
barriers experienced by southern rural black women.
African-Inspired and Woman-Powered Crafts
This article features Southern Journeys Collective – a worker-owned social enterprise drawing inspiration from piece sewing and quilting traditions originating in the rich cultures of West Africa. Enjoy this interview with Lara Jealous, textile designer.
What inspired you to get involved with this project?
There is so much that inspired me and made me want to be part of this project!
I have a passion for crafts. As a textile designer, I work with large companies, developing textiles and products all over the world. I was thrilled to be asked to support the Southern Journeys Collective – a sustainable social enterprise that celebrates American textile traditions and empowers women artisans.
I first met the members of the Southern Journeys Collective during a trip to rural Georgia nearly two years ago. We met in their communal sewing room and I was immediately inspired by their dedication to their craft, the historical references they draw from and their deep desire to share their sewing and quilting traditions with the next generation.
In addition, I come from a long line of women who sewed, quilted, crocheted and embroidered. Sometimes all this making was due to necessity and sometimes it was because it was a way to express their creativity and love. Their creations are family heirlooms and treasures that link me to them and our family history. When I talked and worked with the women in Southern Journeys, it was like sitting with someone from my family. Because of this, my connection to the project is very personal. The more time I spent with the women who are part of Southern Journeys, the more touched I was by their sense of community, friendship and mutual support.
Did any of the women have stories of their lives that particularly stood out?
The story of each woman is unique. I find their perseverance and dedication, despite extreme challenges and obstacles, both admirable and humbling.
How does a purchase make a difference in their lives?
Southern Journeys Collective grew out of the work of the Southern Rural Black Women’s Initiative. SRBWI facilitates rural women’s access to resources and community-centered economic development. It empowers black women in 77 counties spanning some of the poorest and most remote communities throughout Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi. A purchase of a Southern Journeys product provides fair wage income to women with very limited earning opportunities. In addition, Southern Journeys makes the textile traditions and its members’ stories seen, enjoyed and heard. This, in itself, makes a difference.
Their products are handmade from recycled natural fabrics including denim, cotton and silk as well as reused burlap coffee sacks, and hand dyed cotton. The hand dyed fabrics are sourced from a women’s collective in Acessa, Ghana which in turn provides income and educational opportunity to local African women.
CDF Releases New Report on Zero Tolerance
Children’s Defense Fund Releases New Report on Zero Tolerance
Jackson, MS —Today, the Children’s Defense Fund - Southern Regional Office released a new report, Dismantling the Cradle to Prison Pipeline™: Preventing Pushouts in Mississippi Schools. Marian Wright Edelman, founder and president of the Children’s Defense Fund, gave a call to action on the critical need to reform Mississippi zero tolerance school discipline policies immediately and end the practice of suspensions and expulsions for nonviolent offenses. Edelman and her organization have been working in Mississippi for 40 years and see this as a crisis point for Mississippi children.
The new report is a wake-up call for Mississippi to change course and work to keep children in school and learning and in the pipeline to college and successful adulthood. “Too many school districts in Mississippi and around the country are pipelines to prison instead of pipelines to college,” said Marian Wright Edelman, president of the Children’s Defense Fund. “It’s time for Mississippi education leaders to take action now and stop flooding our juvenile justice system with children who don’t pose a threat to others.”
Edelman said the top priority of the Children’s Defense Fund is to dismantle the Cradle to Prison Pipeline crisis that leaves a Black boy born in 2001 with a one-in-three chance of going to prison in his lifetime, and a Latino boy with a one-in-six chance of the same fate. Abusive zero tolerance school discipline policies are a key feeder system fueling the school-to-prison pipeline, pushing students out of school and deepening the dropout crisis in Mississippi.
CDF’s Southern Regional Office has been documenting disciplinary practices in Mississippi, district by district, as the foundation upon which to mobilize students, parents, and community leaders as well as administrators and teachers to halt zero tolerance policies that are pushing children out of school. The new report reveals that in 59 of the school districts in Mississippi, Black students were more than twice as likely as White students to have a disciplinary incident and a disciplinary disposition. The student population in those districts was 52 percent Black and 43 percent White, similar to all districts in the state in terms of racial breakdown, district size and median family income. Forty-four percent of the dispositions were out-of-school suspensions—a rate of 21 per 100 students a year.
Recommendations for critical steps Mississippi should take include mandating all school districts submit data at least annually to the State Department of Education on the types of incidents and dispositions for these incidents, disaggregated by race, ethnicity, age, disability status and school, using uniform incident and disposition definitions and for all school districts to establish discipline protocols and practice to ensure all students are treated fairly and uniformly.
Additional recommendations include the need to develop and provide meaningful alternatives to suspensions and expulsions for nonviolent offenses. CDF recommends an overhaul of alternative school models that are punitive and replace them with models that support appropriate student behavior with trained case managers involved in the lives of students engaged in or at risk of repeat discipline violations. Some alternative discipline procedures recommended by CDF are Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports, peace circles to promote “win-win” solutions to discipline problems, restorative justice strategies and student-led peer mediation.
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The Children’s Defense Fund Leave No Child Behind® mission is to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities.
Dismantling the Cradle to Prision Pipeline
Dismantling the Cradle to Prison PipelineTM:
SRBWI Young Women Meet with Liberian President
Written by Wendy Shenefelt, SRBWI Regional Youth Organizer
The Southern Rural Black Women’s Initiative for Economic and Social Justice (SRBWI) sponsored a trip to Memphis, Tennessee for five young women to attend the National Civil Rights Museum’s 2007 Freedom Awards and the Freedom Awards Public Forum. Established in 1991 to pay tribute to individuals whose accomplishments depict the spirit of the Civil Rights Movement, the National Civil Rights Museum annually selects a national, international and lifetime achievement award recipient of the Freedom Award. 2007 Freedom Awards Honorees were More>>
2011 Hall of Fame Nominations
Nominations for the 2011 Southern Rural Black Women’s Hall of Fame will be accepted through May 6, 2011. more information
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