Tuesday, April 23, 2019 | 6:00 – 8:00 pm

Aja Monet and phillip agnew blend art and community organizing into a way to change their community. Together, they founded Smoke Signals Studio, a space for community-based art and music in Little Haiti, Miami. It’s a place where art and organizing become the answer to anger and anxiety. Both Monet and agnew have dedicated their lives to merging arts and culture with community organizing — Monet with the Community Justice Project and agnew with the Dream Defenders. Join Monet and agnew for an evening of poetry with composer, pianist, and social justice activist Samora Pinderhughes of The Healing Project. This project combines musical compositions with audio interviews with incarcerated people, exposing the trauma of incarceration and its impact on communities of color. Samora Pinderhughes will be accompanied by bassist Clovis Nicolas and drummer Mark Whitfield, Jr.

Time:  6 – 8 pm
Location: Kimmel Center-NYU
60 Washington Square South, Room 914, 9th Floor

Please RSVP: nyuiaaa-cbvc-events@nyu.edu  or (212) 998-IAAA (4222)
Please make sure to state the event name and date in your email.

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Aja Monet is a Caribbean American poet, performer, and educator. Her poems are wise, lyrical, and courageous. Aja Monet was awarded the legendary Nuyorican Poet’s Café Grand Slam title and has been internationally recognized for combining her spellbound voice and vivid poetic imagery on stage. In 2018, Aja Monet’s first full collection of poetry, My Mother Was A Freedom Fighter, was nominated for an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work.  She read the title poem of her collection at the national Women’s March on Washington DC in 2017 to commemorate women of the Diaspora. Aja has independently published several chapbooks including Inner-City Chants & Cyborg Cyphers (2014) and The Black Unicorn Sings (2010). In 2012, she collaborated with poet/musician Saul Williams on the book Chorus: A literary Mixtape, an anthem of a new generation of poets. Aja Monet currently lives in Little Haiti, Miami where she is co-founder of Smoke Signals Studio, a community collective dedicated to music, art, culture, and community organizing. Inspired by poet June Jordan’s revolutionary blueprint, Aja facilitates “Voices: Poetry for the People,” a poetry workshop for grassroots community organizers and leaders. The workshop created the first annual Maroon Poetry Festival in Liberty City, Miami to honor elder cultural workers for their commitment to radical truth-telling. She was a featured speaker at TEDWomen 2018 for her meaningful work in South Florida with Smoke Signals Studio.


Umi Selah (phillip agnew) is a native of Chicago, Illinois, and co-founder of the Dream Defenders. He found his voice as one of today’s most prolific community activists while a student at FAMU. In addition to serving as student body president from 2006-2007, a student member of the Board of Trustees, and the co-chair of the University’s Vote Coalition, he was recognized as a national IMPACT Leader and as one of the top student leaders in the nation by the Diversity Leadership Conference. In 2008, he was honored with the University’s prestigious Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Student Leadership Award. Umi emerged as a national activist when he helped to organize students from FAMU, Florida State University and Tallahassee Community College in the creation of the Student Coalition for Justice, which was formed in response to the Martin Lee Anderson case. In 2012, he co-founded the Dream Defenders and has been dubbed “one of this generation’s leading voices” and recognized by both Ebony magazine and The Root as one of the 100 most influential African Americans in the nation. His work in community activism has been highlighted internationally, including on MSNBC and in the Huffington Post, USA Today, the Guardian and Democracy Now. Umi is a 2008 graduate of FAMU’s School of Business and Industry and is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.


Samora Abayomi Pinderhughes is a composer/pianist/vocalist known for large multidisciplinary projects and for his use of music to examine sociopolitical issues. Samora has performed in venues including Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, MoMA and has toured internationally with artists including Branford Marsalis and Christian Scott. Samora is the first-ever 2018 Arts for Justice + Soros Justice Fellow, given to him in support of his upcoming project "The Healing Project." He is the director and creator of The Transformations Suite, an acclaimed project combining music, theatre, and poetry to examine the radical history of resistance within the communities of the African Diaspora. Samora has collaborated with artists including Common, Herbie Hancock, Glenn Ligon, Branford Marsalis, Sara Bareilles, Daveed Diggs, and Lalah Hathaway. He is a member of Blackout for Human Rights, the arts & social justice collective founded by Ryan Coogler and Ava DuVernay, and was musical director for their #MLKNow and #JusticeForFlint events. A Sundance Composers Lab fellow, Samora recently scored the award-winning documentary Whose Streets?, and wrote songs for All About Nina, HBO's The Tale, the Netflix film Burning Sands and the PBS film The Talk. He is featured as lead vocalist and lyricist on the new album August Greene by Common, Robert Glasper, and Karriem Riggins.

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