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African Americans Rooted and Rising: Nothando & Vusumusi Zulu and Joshua Gillespie

October 15 @ 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm

Embracing Our Roots: African American Rooted and Rising
A Conversation with Nothando and Vusumusi Zulu and their grandson, Joshua Gillespie (Brotha

| Virtual: Zoom |

On Saturday, October 15, 2022, up and coming drummer and storyteller, Joshua Gillespie (Brotha Ase’) will join his grandparents, the master storytellers, Nothando and Vusumusi Zulu, in a conversation about the power of storytelling to lift our people up, and about the Black Storytellers Alliance in Minnesota, of which Nothando and Vusi are co-founding members.

           Embracing Our Roots is a conversation series that reaches back into the history of Minnesota’s African American arts community. The purpose is to pass this knowledge along to the new generation that is now ascending as leaders in our African American arts community. The series features Elders and Culture Bearers who engage with young leaders to discuss significant milestones in Minnesota’s Black arts history, and the impact that the artists and movements have had on our present day capacity to survive the storms and keep creating.  Embracing our Roots: African Americans Rooted and Rising is a collaboration with More Than a Single Story and In Black Ink.





Nothando and Vusumuzi Zulu have been stalwart proponents of Kujichagulia, the Swahili
word for self-determination for over four decades. They revel in opportunities to transmit the
values of our African ancestors through story. Both are transplants from the south: Nothando
from the sharecropping farms of Nat Turner’s county in Virginia and Vusi from the often
tumultuous city of St Louis, Missouri. As co-founding members of the Black Storytellers
Alliance in Minnesota they began producing the popular ““Signifyin’ & Testifyin’” three-day
storytelling festival in 1991 after returning from the National Association of Black Storytellers,
Inc. (NABS) festival and Conference in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. It was such a moving
experience that they knew they had to bring something like that back to inspire the people in
Minnesota. “Signifyin' and Testifyin’” has entertained, enthralled and educated thousands since
its inception. Nothando and Vusi have brought Tellers from across the country to weave
storytelling magic, and audiences continue coming back year after year to glean more nuggets of
truth about our people through the art of oral storytelling. Through storytelling, the Zulu family
demonstrates the Joy of being Black.

Joshua Gillespie (Brotha Ase’)  was brought up within the storytelling culture. Witnessing his grandparents, the master Storytellers Vusumuzi and Nothando Zulu on and off the stage, sparked a flame in him to carry on the torch. He uses his artistic abilities: digital art, music, dance, djembe drumming & oral expertise – to captivate audiences.  Brotha Ase believes our stories are like seeds from the divine tree of life, helping to guide us and grow us into divine trees of our own. The goal of Joshua’s storytelling is to highlight current history (history currently in the making), life lessons , and to inspire his people and all people to aspire to be who they truly are in spite of the trials and tribulations that life throws at them.

Embracing our Roots: African Americans Rooted and Rising is a collaboration with More
Than a Single Story and In Black Ink.


October 15
1:00 pm - 3:00 pm
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