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    HomeNewsWest Hollywood Presents ‘Celebrating Civil Rights Heroes’ with Poet Laureate Jen Cheng

    West Hollywood Presents ‘Celebrating Civil Rights Heroes’ with Poet Laureate Jen Cheng

    The City of West Hollywood and West Hollywood City Poet Laureate Jen Cheng will present a panel discussion and literary salon, Celebrating Civil Rights Heroes, on Saturday, January 20, 2024. It will take place from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the Plummer Park Community Center Rooms 5 & 6, located at 7377 Santa Monica Boulevard. The event is free to attend.

    RSVPs are requested at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/celebrating-civil-rights-heroes-with-poet-laureate-jen-cheng-tickets-776502619237.

    The Civil Rights Leaders panel discussion will take place from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. aiming to inspire people of different backgrounds to connect with one another beyond silos. The panel discussion will include Jen Cheng, who is California’s first Asian American lesbian Poet Laureate and West Hollywood’s first BIPOC Poet Laureate, and five leaders from diverse communities, as follows, in what will be the first time they have participated in a panel discussion together:

    • Miya Iwataki will speak about Japanese Americans and coalitions, as a Japanese American community leader who worked with the Third World solidarity of the 1970s and as an active current leader with Little Tokyo Historical Society and other groups;
    • Martha Gonzalez will share about music and social justice and is a Grammy award-winning Chicana musician, composer, and feminist music scholar, most known for her work with the Chicano rock band Quetzal;
    • Shonda Buchanan, an author, educator, and literary activist, will share poetry about Nina Simone and discuss her contributions to the Civil Rights movement;
    • Rudy Ortega Jr., Tribal President of the Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians, will discuss tribal coalitions; and
    • Ronna Magy, poet and LGBTQ community organizer, will share her experience with the student and women’s movement from her years at UC Berkeley in the 1970s to current organizing.

    As poets seek to better understand humanity, attendees will enjoy the beauty of connecting with new people, building bridges, and making hopeful memories together while recognizing and hearing from those who lived through the civil rights movement.

    Jen Cheng shares this excerpt of a June Jordan poem in advance:

    I am a stranger

    learning to worship the strangers

    around me

    whoever you are

    whoever I may become.

    There will be a reception before and after the Civil Rights Leaders panel discussion, with coffee and Mexican hot chocolate from the new queer- and Latinx-owned business Fan Girl Cafe in West Hollywood.

    The panel discussion will be followed by a West Hollywood edition of Palabras Literary Salon at 3:30 p.m. featuring poet Sean Hill, with guest readings by BIPOC poets and writers on the theme visionaries. The literary salon will feature art vendors, including art by West Hollywood resident and Two-Spirited Liban Apache artisan Andrew Pacheco, aka Native Image LA. Also in attendance will be representatives of the Helen Albert Certified Farmers’ Market and West Hollywood Library, as well as grassroots groups.

    Everyone is welcome to attend any part of these two events for an afternoon of intergenerational and intercultural connection.

    For additional information about the panelists in the Civil Rights Leaders panel discussion, please visit West Hollywood City Poet Laureate Jen Cheng’s Civil Rights Heroes webpage at https://jencvoice.com/civil-rights-heroes. For additional information about the West Hollywood City Poet Laureate program, please visit www.weho.org/community/arts-and-culture/literary-arts/city-poet.

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