After the uprisings for George Floyd and Daunte Wright, sharing knowledge inter-generationally is more important than ever. Join us for monthly conversations where young arts leaders will join our elders in conversation about their histories of significant milestones in Minnesota’s Black literary history. On Wednesday, Oct. 20, Alanna Morris-Van Tassel will join Arleta Little and Ellena Schoop in a conversation about the Givens Foundation for African American Literature and the collaborative retreat they founded which brought in nationally and internationally renowned poets and writers such as Amiri Baraka and Sonja Sanchez to mentor emerging Minnesota Black writers.
Embracing Our Roots is a partnership with More Than a Single Story, Black Table Arts, and In Black Ink
Alanna Morris-Van Tassel is a dancer-choreographer, educator, and artist organizer whose work excavates cultural retention and fragmentation within their Caribbean diasporic identity. They were a featured performer with TU Dance from 2007-2017, and served as the company’s Artistic Associate in 2020. In 2015 they were awarded a McKnight Dance Fellowship, They were named Dance Magazine’s “25 to Watch!”in 2018 and were selected as City Pages’ Artist of the Year in and Best Choreographer in 2019. Morris-Van Tassel is the Artistic Director of AMVTP, founded in 2017 to produce dance, education and community-building initiatives. Learn more about Alanna at www.alannamvt.com.
Arleta Little is a writer and culture worker living in Minneapolis’s Longfellow neighborhood. Her literary work has appeared in Blues Vision: African American Writing From Minnesota and in The Saint Paul Almanac. She is a co-author along with Josie Johnson and Carolyn Holbrook of Hope in the Struggle: A Memoir about the life of Josie R. Johnson. Formerly the Executive Director of the Givens Foundation of African American Literature, she currently works as an Arts Program Officer and the Director of Artist Fellowships at the McKnight Foundation.
Ellena (Tina) Schoop, east coast native, IT Professional by day, is a founding member of Uhuru Dancers, 1989. She is a West African dancer, choreographer, poet, and playwright who writes dramatic works of social, economic and historical subjects. She was the visionary and co-founder of the Givens Foundation Black Writers Collaborative Retreat Program. Raised by parents who were members of the Black Panther Party, she believes in not only sharing these stories through dance and writing, but through fighting for equity. She has performed, written and shared stories throughout the Twiin Cities for the past 2 decades.