“You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep spring from coming.”
― Pablo Neruda
Meet Kendra Rosalie-Hicks, Co-Director of Radical Philanthropy at Resist, and part of the Evolutionary Leadership Workshop cohort of 2017. I asked her to share where she is with her project, and she blew my mind.
Her aim is to nurture the radical imagination and to cultivate audacity to re-imagine the world. Kendra is looking at the apocalyptic conditions that lie just below the surface of what is the most affluent society that has ever walked the earth. She holds awareness of the lives and the bodies upon which it has been built. And she believes that it is from here, from the throes of despair, that a new world can be built.
Kendra draws her inspiration from the work of the Combahee River Collective, the Black feminist queer organization from our own city of Boston that articulated ideas that today shape our thinking on intersectionality.
Kendra posits that the women of the collective dared to articulate the bold clarity of their thought, their vision for liberation, precisely because they did not know how long they would live. She speaks of the twelve young Black girls who were murdered within the span three months in Roxbury in 1979, and of the impact that this reality had on the women of the collective.
Kendra is working with Luana Morales, a Boston based medicine woman and part of the Evolutionary Leadership Workshop cohort of 2016, to visit each of the sites of the twelve murders, to build altars and practice rituals honoring each of their deaths. This work of the heart will also become an installation of socially engaged art.
There is so much power here.
The name of the collective commemorates an action at the Combahee River planned and led by Harriet Tubman on June 2, 1863. The action freed more than 750 slaves and is the only military campaign in American history planned and led by a woman. Kendra reminds us that those who have been born into slavery may not always be able to imagine their freedom. It takes women like Harriet Tubman, who had attained the liberation of her mind and soul, to show others the way to freedom.
Our work is a forward facing remembering. Freedom can be born from here, imagination can burst from here, the future can be crafted here, we can move forward from here. But only if we are able to remember. There is a thread that has been held, and loved, and fought for, by each generation. It is our turn to pull on that thread.
The women of the collective looked back to Harriet Tubman, Kendra Rosalie-Hicks looks back to the Combahee River Collective, she builds altars for the dead, she is among those who will not forget. She is among those who will imagine and among those who will create.
We are living at the end of days, in the most privileged, affluent society that has ever walked this earth. We are our ancestors’ wildest dreams, we are the answer to their prayers and we are also ancestors in training. It behooves to remember so that our descendants can live.