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Living Curriculum Series Vol. 1

Sharing Our Stories Sharing Ourselves

Contents Acknowledgements Process Overview Activity One Life Road Map: Personal stories toward self and movement formation Activity Two Collages: Artistic expression of art Activity Three Sharing our history and our resistance

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Sharing Our Stores: Sharing Ourselves South by Southwest Experiment Living Curriculum Series Artwork by Patsy Polston All Rights Reserved 2014 3

Our acknowledgements

Our Purpose


x SW Experiment serves the low-wealth grassroots communities of color in central and southern New Mexico, the San Antonio, Austin and border county areas of Texas, and the State of Mississippi, with a concentration of work in the Mississippi Delta region.

n 2005 Southwest Workers Union in Texas, South West Organizing Project in New Mexico, and Southern Echo in Mississippi pooled their strengths and resources to create the South by Southwest Experiment to take to a new level their work to empower historically excluded and oppressed low-wealth grassroots communities of color in their respective states.


x SW Experiment is designed to build sustainable bridges between Latino and African American communities across the traditional racial, ethnic, cultural, political and geographic barriers that have kept these communities divided. S by SW Experiment is enabling these communities to work together for the first time by building trust and respect through a sharing of personal stories, building an understanding of the common ground contained in their community, state and regional political and economic histories, and an appreciation of the goals and programs of work of each participant grassroots community organization.


hrough collective trainings and workshops, this effort aims to unify and amplify our diverse voices to address regional barriers to racial equality. This work represents a collaborative effort between the three organizations.

Contact information




n particular we want to thank the Program Committees for the first and second Building Bridges to Empower a True Majority convening held by SxSW Experiment in November 2011 in San Antonio, TX and July 2012 in Jackson, MS.



n the surface these three community bases would appear to be separated by history, culture, language, and geography. The communities with which we work in New Mexico and Texas come from the southwestern history, culture and language rooted in Mexico and Central America. The communities with which we work in Mississippi derive from southern history, culture and language rooted in the African diaspora.


evertheless the low-wealth communities of color in the three states share significant common ground that provides a meaningful basis for collaboration to change these conditions. The similar conditions they face are the intended consequences of conscious policies, including slavery and racial segregation, which dominated these regions long before statehood.


hrough this collaborative process across race and ethnicity, culture and geography, participants can see a larger world than they have known and participate in a process that ends their isolation and provides tools and skills with which to build a better quality of life.


his is not only a learning process for young people, but also a liberating process. The sense of involvement in the work, the building of relationships around matters of deep concern to young people, and the successes achieved through these collaborative efforts assist participants to build a sense of self-respect, the capacity to trust others, and an appreciation of the communities from which they come, all of which works to overcome the despair and sense of helplessness that is rooted in the reality of powerlessness with which they had started. 5


ur approach is based on enabling people to understand each other through the sharing of their personal histories, which tend to reveal the deeper fabric of family and community, and the often difficult paths families have traveled that lift up where they have been, where they are, and where they need to go.

Activity One


hrough this process people from diverse cultures with different histories, languages and experiences, can appreciate each other’s essential humanity, vulnerability, spirit and perspective, which tends to break down stereotypes deeply rooted in the culture and help to overcome the fear of the unknown. People get to appreciate their similarities rather than getting mired down in their differences.


t is very important to share the political and economic histories of the communities, states and regions so that everyone can understand that the conditions which they face are not their fault, are not the result of any inherent incapacity or personal defect, but the outcome of hundreds of years of policies and practices intended to subjugate and marginalize their communities to render them dependent rather than independent.


t is essential to involve people together in meaningful work so that they can understand their capacity to work together in a unified way, and to realize the strength they can build through organized collaboration, to bring about fundamental changes for their families and communities.


Life Road Map: Personal stories towards self and movement formation


Life Road Map Objective: This activity allows for personal reflection and story telling about participants’ individual life experiences that influenced political development. The process facilitates relationship building, story sharing and recognition of the commonalities and differences among folks in the room.

Materials: • Paper • Pens, Pencils, Markers, etc.

Time: 20-30 minutes for personal reflection 5-10 minutes per person to share, based on the size of the group (can be done in pairs, small groups or as one large group)

Sharing Ourselves: Life Road Map South by Southwest Experiment San Antonio, Texas June 2013

Activity: 1. Distribute a piece of paper to everyone 2. Individually, ask each participant to ‘draw’ your life road map - with words, pictures or symbols or any combination - that answers the question: how did you get here (in terms of political development and formation)?

3. In pairs or small groups, ask each person to describe their life road map and share their personal journey. 4. (optional) Display the road maps in a common mural.



Collages Table Art Projects Objective:

Activity Two

Participants in each group will use construction materials, markers, magazine clippings and other materials to create artistic representations of one or more aspects of their lives and use these to briefly introduce themselves to one another


Collages: Artistic expressions of self

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Construction Paper Pens, Pencils, Markers, etc. Glue Scissors Magazines Art supplies: pipe cleaners, beads, stickers, etc.

Time: 30-45 minutes

Activity: Participants should take approximately 10 minutes constructing their artwork and placing it on a piece of butcher (easel pad) paper. The artwork should reflect something about the participant: who they are, life experiences or what has brought them to the movement. The group should take another 20-30 minutes so each participant can explain their artwork to the entire group. At the end of the activity, each group can display the resulting collages.



Collective Timeline Objective:

Activity Three

Sharing of the history of oppression and slavery and the struggles that took place during the past 500 years to resist and overcome it. Use an interactive and visual way to share personal / organizational perspectives on history to arrive at a stronger mutual understanding of governance and movement victories, setbacks and challenges. This activity examines historical paths and the extent to which the struggles are not just similar in their nature, but have actually been connected.


Sharing our history and our resistance

• • • •

Construction Paper Pens, Pencils, Markers, etc. Tape Large space labeled with years (e.g. pre 1500s, 1600, 1700, 1800, 1850, 1900, 1920, 1940, 1960, 1980, 2000, 2010, future)

Time: 45 minutes to 1 hour

Activity: Individually or in small groups, the participants will come up with up to five examples of moments in history – recent or distant – having to do with governance, including victories and setbacks, and create patches for each event. Write the events with the date on a patch. One person will place the patches on the timeline. Participants will reflect on the timeline and the relevance of the exercise to reflect should step back and observe and reflect on the 12


Collective Timeline: Examples to start

1845 - US invasion of Mexico The Mexican territory known today as California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Nevada and parts of Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas and Oklahoma was seized by the US government.

1492 - Columbus sailed Representing the Spanish crown, Columbus sailed west and virtually stumbled upon San Salvador in the Bahama Islands. Columbus, like all other explorers and conquistadors under the Spanish crown, wanted gold and glory all in the name of God.

1896 - Separate but ‘Equal’ The US Supreme Court decided the case of Plessy v. Ferguson which upheld the right of states to pass laws to force the segregation of races in public facilities. The Court held that such laws did not violate the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment if the facilities were “separate but equal”.

1526 - First non-native settlement in United States The very first non-native settlers in the country now known as the United States were African slaves left in 1526 by Spaniards who abandoned a settlement attempt. 500Spaniards and 100 black slaves ‘founded’ a town near the mouth of the Pee Dee River in what is now present day South Carolina. 1680 - Pueblo Revolt A native revolt was led by Popé who united pueblos of native tribes situated along the Rio Grande corridor. In Santa Fe, the Spanish were effectively defeated, left with no water and with the road south blocked by their Indian foes who burned everything Spanish. New Mexico Governor Otermín was forced to bargain with Popé, who allowed the Spanish families and about 100 soldiers to retreat south on a journey of death or jornado de muerto until they reached El Paso, TX. 1793 - Fugitive Slave Law The First Fugitive Slave Law is passed under the administration of the first president, George Washington, with his support, which allowed slave owners to cross state lines in the pursuit of fugitives and making it a penal offense to help runaway slaves.


1930s - The Great Depression The Great Depression started with the Wall Street stock market crash of 1929 and began the worst economic crisis in the history of the United States. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, elected President in 1932, promised a “New Deal” for all Americans that would provide them with security from the cradle to the grave. With racial segregation being the law of the land there were many inequities in the New Deal housing, agricultural and economic programs. African Americans suffered more than their white counterparts, received less from their government, and got what they called a “raw deal” rather than a “new deal.” 1965 - The Voting Rights Act The 1965 Voting Rights act was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson. It outlawed the discriminatory voting practices adopted in many southern states after the Civil War, including literacy tests and poll taxes as a prerequisite to voting. This had immediate impact. By the end of 1966, only 4 out of the traditional 13 Southern states, had less than 50% of African Americans registered to vote. By 1968, Mississippi had 59% of African Americans registered.


Sharing Our Stories: Sharing Ourselves  

Sharing Our Stores: Sharing Ourselves South by Southwest Experiment Living Curriculum Series Artwork by Patsy Polston All Rights Reserved 20...

Sharing Our Stories: Sharing Ourselves  

Sharing Our Stores: Sharing Ourselves South by Southwest Experiment Living Curriculum Series Artwork by Patsy Polston All Rights Reserved 20...