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Art, Advocacy, and Action

Art, Advocacy, and Action: The Call

“The transformative power of love is not fully embraced in our society because

we often wrongly believe that torment and anguish are our ‘natural’ condition.” 

bell hooks, All About Love

Transformative justice calls us to convert relationships, institutions and systems grossly distorted by racist oppression, particularly our systems of policing, “justice,” and incarceration. . We are called to face the torment and anguish incurred by injustice, to work at repairing brokenness, and to reach for hope in the transformative power of love. How to both dismantle systems of oppression and create visionary alternatives for the world we want? Art is a powerful tool for reflecting hard truths, redeeming pain, visioning new possibilities, and pointing the way to justice. Join artists and activists to explore radical possibilities for a world without a prison industrial complex through community work, organizing, art, healing, and more. Workshops will focus on destroying/divesting and inventing/investing, covering topics such as racist policing in Nashville, women & prisons, ICE & immigration, and restorative justice in K-12.

As part of the Transformative Justice Series, which offers the opportunity to explore different ways to combine leadership development through justice-making, this gathering seeks to:

  • Imagine and enact “Beloved community”
  • Encourage direct action, advocacy, creative protest, and prophetic response
  • Foster connections among Nashville locals eager to share their work
  • Join ideas, motivations, resources, networks, etc. in creative collaboration
  • Overcome the isolation often experienced
  • Provide inspiration that transcends exhaustion, futility, and distraction

Register for Art, Advocacy, and Action: The Call here.

Schedule of Events (Free and open to the public)

Friday, March 24

5:00 p.m.                              

Opening Reception

Reading Room, Vanderbilt Divinity School

5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.         

The Artist's Call for Justice: Expressions of Social Change

Reading Room, Vanderbilt Divinity School


Rahim Buford (Activist), Omari Booker (Artist), Edarrius Smith (Artist), Niger Woodruff (Mystic), Writer's Block, and many others.

Saturday, March 25

9:00 a.m.                              


Reading Room, Vanderbilt Divinity School

9:10 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.                

Opening Ritual

Phillis Sheppard, Associate Professor of Religion, Psychology, and Culture

Sarah Jordan, MDiv Student

10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.       

Trade School for Punks, Alchemists, and Architects

10:00 a.m. - 11:30 p.m.

  • "ICE Raids & Deportations" led by Nashville Community Defense
  • "Defeating the Blue Lives Matter Movement" led by Showing Up for Racial Justice Nashville
  • "Women, Domestic Violence, Carceral Systems" led by Nashville Feminist Collective's Transformative Justice Group

12:30 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.

  • "Alternatives to Calling the Police" led by Protect the Culture
  • "Restorative Justice and the School to Prison Pipeline" led by Melissa Gordon
  • Sanctuary Movement led by Erin Guzman
  •  "Power, Protest, and Resistance" led by Freedom Arts/Arte Libertad
  • Prison Abolition led by Free Hearts

2:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.                    

Closing Ritual: The Call

Phillis Sheppard, Associate Professor of Religion, Psychology, and Culture

Sarah Jordan, MDiv Student


Art, Advocacy and Action is co-sponsored by: Vanderbilt Divinity School, Carpenter Program in Religion, Gender and Sexuality, Religion in the Arts and Contemporary Culture, and The Cal Turner Program for Moral Leadership in the Professions, and Vocations in Racial Justice: Transdisciplinary Activist/Practitioner/Scholar