upcoming grant deadline: 08/01/2017

upcoming grant deadline: 08/01/2017

Bernice Johnson Reagon

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2000 Leeway Laurel Award – $100,000

To The Ancestors' Voices We Take Heed

Spirits of history, our views, values, aspirations given life through past deeds, are always about us in ways unknown, sometimes mysteriously troubling, other times shimmering invitingly before us, until they are given voice in the present.

Bernice Johnson Reagon is a spirit voice who speaks to us in the intimate language of our personal selves, stirring feelings of pains and joys past, stimulating tempting, decisive present moments - the promise of a secret tomorrow - hope for making a just public future in our national and world communities.

She brings to us her special gifts - a voice of beauty and power whose memory chords are laden with inquiries into our histories: the sounds (hums, moans, grunts, floating melodies), the emotions (courage, love, peace), the striving of a woman, of children, a community, a people, a nation, a world that will not rest in the struggle for freedom until it comes.

In her signature voice, she writes, sings, teaches and lives her call to us about the new world coming out of the voices of our many songs sung, our odes to defeats and victories, our reads traveled to the present. To which we, individually and together - in concert halls and auditoria, churches and synagogues, spirited rallies and daring protest lines, classrooms and lecture halls, viewing television documentaries and big screen cinema, on jogging paths and in bedrooms, respond to her like the poet Sterling Brown responded in the people voice to Ma Rainey: "Git way inside us, keep us strong."

We acknowledge and thank you Sister Bernice for reminding us of the ancestor's call. In paying tribute to your creativity, your artistry, your contributions to the beauty we know and feel, we also honor and heed the many ancestors of your spirit: our lives, our families, our communities and the beauty and justice in the world we will make.

In love and respect, we salute you my Sister,


James Early
Director of Cultural Heritage Policy
Smithsonian Institution Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage

On occasion of The Leeway Laurel presented to Bernice Johnson Reagon in Philadelphia, April 27, 2000.

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Leeway grant?

Art and Change Grant

The Art and Change Grant provides project-based grants of up to $2,500 to women and trans* artists in the Delaware Valley region to fund art for social change projects. [read more]

deadline 08/01
Upcoming events
07/1211:00 am - 1:00 pm

Grant Information Session in Center City

Are you thinking about applying for the Art and Change Grant or the Leeway Transformation Award but not sure of how to go about it? Join past recipients as they share their experience of applying and Leeway staff members as they share best practices on how to prepare your application for the 2017 grants.

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07/192:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Applicant Support Session in Germantown

Applicant support sessions are an opportunity to meet one-on-one with a Leeway representative to get direct feedback on your application. Drop-in sessions do not require an appointment and will be held from 2:00pm to 7:00pm.

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