Throughout the Organize Your Own project several panel discussions have taken place, including:

  • Organize Your Own?, Asian Arts Initiative, Philadelphia
  • Organize Your Own?, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago 
  • Original Rainbow Coalition, Slought Foundation, Philadelphia 
  • Original Rainbow Coalition, Columbia College, Chicago 
  • Artists Talk, The Leviton Gallery at Columbia College, Chicago 

Panelist Bios:

Organize Your Own?

  • Emily Chow Bluck is a socially engaged artist and community organizer currently based in New York. She works with communities to build local campaigns for social justice that forefront the experiences, stories, and skill sets of her collaborators. Food is consistently an important part of her work.
  • Aletheia Hyun-Jin Shin is a social practice artist based in Baltimore, Maryland. Incorporating organizing and storytelling in her artistic praxis, Aletheia collaborates with communities as an artistic asset to nurture and build solidarity and community voices.
  • Known for mixing history and culture with contemporary themes, Eric J. Garcia tries to create art that is more than just aesthetics. Garcia has shown in numerous national and international exhibitions, has received many awards such as the prestigious Jacob Javits Fellowship, and is currently an artist in residence at the Hyde Park Art Center. Originally from Albuquerque, New Mexico, Garcia came to Chicago in 2007, to study at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago where he earned his MFA. By day Garcia works at the National Museum of Mexican Art, where he teaches Chicano history and art; by night he is a versatile artist working in an assortment of media. From hand-printed posters, to published political cartoons, to sculptural installations, all of his work has a common goal of educating and challenging.
  • Born in Chicago, Maria Gaspar is an interdisciplinary artist who negotiates matters of geography, space, and authority through her work. She creates action-based and performative interventions with youth and adults that explore the social and political body through long-term processes. Gaspar’s art practice includes founding major community projects such as City As Site (2010) and The 96 Acres Project, a series of public, site-responsive actions that examines the Cook County Jail and the impact of incarceration on communities of color. Gaspar was awarded a Creative Capital Award, a Joan Mitchell Foundation Emerging Artist Award, the National Museum of Mexican Art Sor Juana Women of Achievement Award, and residencies at the Experimental Sound Studio in Chicago and Project Row Houses in Houston. She was featured in the Chicago Tribuneas Chicagoan of the Year in the Visual Arts in 2014. She is an Assistant Professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
  • Nicole Marroquin is an interdisciplinary artist whose creative practice includes collaboration, research, teaching, and strategic intervention. Marroquin is an experienced classroom teacher and has collaborated with youth on art-based action research. In addition to activism in education, Marroquin exhibits her sculpture internationally, including at the Museo Nacional de Culturas Populares in Mexico City and the National Museum of Mexican Art. After receiving her MFA from the University of Michigan in 2008 she moved to Pilsen in Chicago where she studies participatory cultural production with youth and communities. She is an Assistant Professor of Art Education at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Original Rainbow Coalition

  • Billy “Che” Brooks is the former Deputy Minister of Education for the Illinois Chapter of the Black Party for Self-Defense. Billy has dedicated his life to serving the people and was instrumental in setting up free health clinics, Breakfast for Children Programs, legal and housing services and fighting racism and social injustice for all peoples. Bill is also an original member of the Original Rainbow Coalition . Billy is presently retired but still active in reaching the youth of his community.
  • Mike James is a life long activist known for his commitment of fighting social injustices since his college days in the 1960`s. He was a part of the original Student for A Democratic Society that blanketed the US in the 1960`s by moving into poor neighborhoods to fight for poor people`s rights and help them to organize for the self determination of their communities. Some of his notable accomplishments was his work as an organizer in Chicago`s Uptown neighborhood that was under the control of the Richard J. Daley machine that held contempt for poor people. He and the community residents organized against, police brutality, slum landlords and organized tenant unions. Served as Campaign Director for the Eldridge Clever, Peggy terry Presidential Campaign and the creation of Rising Up Angry that carried on many of the programs of the Original Rainbow Coalition. Mike is also an accomplished actor and presently a co host on Live from the Heartland radio show that showcases many activist and performers from across the country.
  • Dr. Antonio Lopez is Executive Director of the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO). Born in Gary Indiana and raised in Chicago, Illinois. Dr. Lopez received his doctorant in Borderlands History at the University of Texas at El Paso. Dr. Lopez has written extensively on anti-poverty and anti-racist social movements in Chicago. He has also contributed to human rights, environmental justice, and environmental struggles in Chicago and on the U.S./Mexican Border. Prior to joining LVEJO, Lopez coordinated a membership program for youth incarcerated at Illinois Youth Center, St. Charles, and contributed to Chicago Grassroots Curriculum Task Force.
  • Amy Sonnie is an activist, educator and librarian. She is co-author of Hillbilly Nationalists, Urban Race Rebels and Black Power, which explores the inspiration and impact of multiracial coalitions among poor/working-class white, Black and Latino activists during the Sixties and Seventies (with James Tracy, Melville House, 2011). Her first book, Revolutionary Voices, an anthology by queer and transgender youth, is banned in parts of New Jersey and Texas (Alyson Books, 2000). Amy is co-founder and current board member of the Center for Media Justice and works as a librarian in Oakland, CA, where she coordinates adult literacy and civic engagement programs. Find her on Twitter @bannedlibrarian.
  • Jakobi Williams is an Associate Professor in the Department of African American and African Diaspora Studies and the Department of History at Indiana University. He is the author of From the Bullet to the Ballot: The Illinois Chapter of the Black Panther Party and Racial Coalition Politics in Chicago.
  • James Tracy is a longtime social justice organizer in the Bay Area. He currently teaches Community Organizing at City College of San Francisco. He is the co-author of Hillbilly Nationalists, Urban Race Rebels: Community Organizing in Radical Times and the author of Dispatches Against Displacement: Field Notes From San Francisco’s Housing Wars.
  • Edward Onaci is an Assistant Professor of History at Ursinus College. His courses focus on African American & Africana Studies, modern U.S. history, women’s global political struggles, and more. Onaci’s pedagogy incorporates interdisciplinary scholarship and an activist orientation to teaching and learning. He encourages students to take ownership over their personal and group studies, produce their own knowledge, and apply what they learn to their current lives and future ambitions. Also known as Brotha Onaci, a DJ and music producer, he is the co-founder of the People’s DJs Collective and Sonic Diaspora.