Citizen Artist Salon: Creative Strategies for Commemorative Justice

Thursday, May 16 @ 6pm EST / 3pm PST

This Citizen Artist Salon, hosted by the U.S. Department of Arts and Culture in partnership with 400 Years of Inequality: A People’s Observance for a Just Future, explored how anyone can activate place-based creative strategies for truth-telling and collective healing. This year marks the 400th anniversary of the 1619 arrival of the first enslaved African ancestors trafficked across the Atlantic Ocean and sold in the U.S. Presenters Arielle Julia Brown, Free Egunfemi, Havanna Fisher, and Robert Sember offered tools, resources, and tips for Citizen Artists interested in bringing about what Richmond-based tactical urbanist Free Egunfemi has termed “the Commemorative Justice movement” to resurrect deliberately submerged narratives through arts-based observances in their own communities.

400 Years of Inequality is a diverse coalition of organizations and individuals calling on everyone - families, friends, communities, institutions - to plan their own solemn observance of 1619, learn about their own stories and local places, and organize for a more just and equal future.  We are dedicated to dismantling structural inequality and building strong, healthy communities. For more:


Arielle Julia Brown is a creative producer, social practice artist and dramaturg.  Emerging from her work and research around U.S. slavery, racial terror and justice, Arielle is committed to supporting and creating Black performance work that commands imaginative and material space for social transformation. Among many other transformative projects, Arielle is a co-creative producer on Remember2019, a performance and residency project based in Phillips County, Arkansas.

Free Egunfemi is a tactical urbanist from Richmond, Virginia, entrusted as a guardian of her city's enslaved African ancestors. Untold RVA is her niche historical consultancy that specializes in resurrecting deliberately submerged Black freedom narratives, and coined the term "Commemorative Justice" to describe the unearthing of hidden historical freedom narratives as an act of resistance. Free is a 2019 Fellow with Monument Lab and an Honor Roll awardee with Association of Independents in Radio.

Havanna Fisher is an emerging interdisciplinary artist and designer from Harlem who works across the fields of design, performing arts and film. Her most recent project is called “The Cotton Series”  which debuted at Movement Research at Judson Church Fall of 2017. The Cotton Series is a collection of dance works that explores Black women’s lives as they live in America and how their sisterhood support their survival.

Robert Sember works at the intersection of art and public health.  He is a member of the international sound-art collective, Ultra-red, which was established 25 years ago by AIDS activists in Los Angeles.  Robert’s ethnographic research in the U.S. and South Africa has focused on governmental and non-governmental substance abuse, mental health, and homelessness service sectors with an emphasis on HIV/AIDS prevention, testing, and treatment access.