From The Sea Islands to Beyonce – The Legacy of The Igbo Landing In Contemporary American Culture

Image c/o Mikael Owunna: Beyoncé in the music video for “Love Drought” marching into the water followed by a procession of black women.

One of the guests on our upcoming podcast, Mikael Owunna, is, among many things, well-known for his article on the link between Beyonce’s music video “Love Drought,” Julie Dash’s film “Daughters of The Dust” and the myth of the Igbo Landing.

[Mikael Owunna’s Image description: Donovan Nelson’s artistic depiction of Igbo Landing in charcoal. It shows the Igbo slaves marching into a body of water with the water already up to their necks and their eyes closed. Image via Valentine Museum of Art]

As Mikael writes:

For those who don’t know, Igbo Landing is the location of a mass suicide of Igbo slaves that occurred in 1803 on St. Simons Island, Georgia. As the story goes, a group of Igbo slaves revolted and took control of their slave ship, grounded it on an island, and rather than submit to slavery, proceeded to march into the water while singing in Igbo, drowning themselves in turn. They all chose death over slavery. It was an act of mass resistance against the horrors of slavery and became a legend, particularly amongst the Gullah people living near the site of Igbo Landing.

Not only is the story of Igbo Landing one of the key themes of Julie Dash’s Daughters Of The Dust, which influenced LEMONADE, but its imagery also appears to be central to the “Love Drought” video. In the video, Beyoncé marches into the water followed by a group of black women all in white with black fabric in the shape of a cross across the front of their bodies. They march progressively deeper into the water before pausing and raising all of their hands toward the sunset.

Join us TODAY 4/20 at Georgia State University’s Alliance for Gender & Sexual Diversity located in Room 467 of Student Center West located at 141 Courtland Street SE, Atlanta, GA 30303 for a screening of Julie Dash’s Daughters Of The Dust and stick around for a discussion on the legacy of the Igbo Landing as we sip on some lemonade and other seasonal refreshments.

Daughters Of The Dust – A Film Screening and Discussion

SPARK invites you to a screening of Daughters Of The Dust, a Great Migration drama set in 1902 and celebrated today as a landmark film that showcases the significance of the Georgia-South Carolina Sea Islands in the construction of Southern culture.

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Written and directed by Julie Dash, Daughters Of The Dust tells the story of a Gullah family’s struggle to maintain their roots while trying to transcend the phantasmic shackles of slavery that lingered beyond abolition. The film fell into anonymity since its release 25 years ago and has recently re-entered the zeitgeist after it served as the primary source material for Beyonce’s visual album, Lemonade.

Join us this THURSDAY 4/20/17 from 6:00pm-8:00pm at The Georgia State University’s Alliance for Sexual and Gender Diversity in room 467 of Student Center West, located at 141 Courtland Street SE, for a screening of Julie Dash’s Daughters Of The Dust and stick around for a discussion on black migrations as we sip on some lemonade and other seasonal refreshments.

Share the event with your community via FACEBOOK.

Welcome to SPARK, Randi!

We are pleased to welcome Randi Gregory to the SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW family as our new Director of Programs!

Randi is a native of GA and studied Speech Communications at the University of Georgia. She has been a life-long progressive, but didn’t become active until after working on a Senate race in Arkansas where she became even more excited about working on community issues with volunteers. After working as the Atlanta Field Director for the 2010 elections, Randi became a union organizer with Service Employees International Union where she organized a wide variety of healthcare workers. She most recently worked as the Central/Southern Ohio Organizer for NARAL Pro Choice Ohio which sparked her interest for Reproductive Justice. Randi enjoys travelling, good or bad movies, is a Gates Millennium Scholar and a proud member of Gamma Phi Delta Sorority Inc.

We are honored to have Randi as a member of our team and know we will accomplish great things together! Join us in welcoming Randi Gregory and wishing her the best in her journey with SPARK.

Share Your Thoughts!

SPARK is working with the Centers for Disease Control to identify trans youth interested in being interviewed about what makes them feel healthy, happy and strong.

Interested in being a part of the study? Call or text Michelle at 678-519-7581 to see if you qualify. Interviews will take place at SPARK. If you qualify for the study and choose to help, you will be offered a free gift!

The Pillars Of Equity

Participants listen to remarks from a speaker at the International Women’s Day rally in the shadow of Trump Tower, Wednesday March 8, 2017, in New York. Image c/o AP/Bebeto Matthews.

SPARK Board Chair, Heidi Williamson, recently published a research paper with the Center For American Progress on the pillars of reproductive justice:

Reproductive health and rights are inextricably linked with reproductive justice. The five key pillars that should be at the core of an economic agenda to address the needs of women and their families are:

  • Self-determination
  • Access to comprehensive reproductive health services
  • Affordability of care
  • Parenting with respect and dignity
  • Workplace and caregiving supports

Each pillar represents a key component that all women need to thrive and be healthy. These pillars are valuable individually but are also mutually reinforcing to anchor a policy agenda that meets the intersectional needs of working women.

Read the rest of the paper here and tell us what #RJmeans to you on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram!

Free Breast Health Screenings

The Health Initiative is hosting a series of no-cost community breast health screening days that are open for registration now!  Services provided are made possible by a grant from Susan G. Komen of Greater Atlanta and It’s the Journey.

Screenings will take place on Saturday, March 25, 2017 between 9:00 AM & 2:00 PM at The Health Initiative site located in The Phillip Rush Center. You can register for the screening hereThere are limited spots available so sign up now!

Participants must be at least 35 years old. All of these services are trans* inclusive.

The Health Initiative will contact you to select your appointment time after you register.

Celebrating Trans-Led Organizations In Our Community

We’re observing the National Day of Action For Trans Women Of Color with Atlanta’s very own Southerners On New GroundGetEQUALForward Together, and more.

Earlier this month, the campaign released a joint statement that set the tone for a truly intersectional movement:

So far in 2017, seven of our sisters have lost their lives to horrific acts of violence. These Black and native trans women’s lives were in jeopardy on multiple levels before November 8th and threats have only increased since. However, despite the hyper-visible outrage against anti-woman and anti-LGBT policies led and inspired by the Trump administration, the loss of Mesha Caldwell, Jaquarrius Holland, Chyna Doll Depree, JoJo Striker, Ciara McElveen, Jamie Lee Wounded Arrow, Tiara Richmond, and the calls for action from trans women in our community have been met with telling silence.

Today, we are making a collective call to action. Any resistance movement that is dynamic and powerful enough to overcome white supremacists and religious extremists who hold power in our government must also be bold enough to stand up and fight back against transphobic, racist, anti-woman, anti-femme forces in our ranks and in our neighborhoods. We must demand more of ourselves and of each other… We must rise with urgency and conviction to support the resistance led by those most on the margins and protect trans women and femmes of color by any means necessary.

The National Day Of Action provides a far-reaching platform to bring attention to the struggles and triumphs of trans women during Women’s History Month, an occasion that has steadily become one of the most visible public shows of solidarity within the feminist movement. Naturally, SPARK joined the call as part of our ongoing effort to centralize the experiences of queer and trans youth of color within any liberation movement.


The primary goal of the day of action is to protect trans futures. To that end, SPARK recommits our outreach efforts to seeking out trans-led organizations in our community and using our platform to highlight the work they do, starting with Southern Fried Queer Pride, an Atlanta-based organization that was founded by the multi-talented  Taylor ALXNDR.

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Southern Fried Queer Pride (SFQP) is an Atlanta-based queer and trans alternative Pride festival and collective celebrating the robust and vibrant community in the Southern United States. Cooked in the oils of our forequeers of the Compton Cafeteria Riots, the Stonewall Riots, ACT UP, and the many radical uprisings of years past, SFQP holds close to the political identity of being queer. SFQP is arts and politically based and serves to provide an intersectional, radically inclusive festival on the last week of June, along with events throughout the year.

SFQP is a community-driven organization and depends on grassroots contributions, both creatively and financially. They are currently accepting submissions for their very first gallery show, Digital Queerness, and have sponsorship packets for their annual festival, #SFQP2017, taking place this May, available by request.

Follow their social feeds on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to learn more about Southern Fried Queer Pride and how you can get involved with their work.