Atlanta is here. So begins a powerful video that opened Day 2 of the Facing Race National Conference. Conceptualized and produced by local Facing Race coordinator, Zahra Alabanza, the video was filmed by a local Atlanta crew, with original music and powerful poetry, edited by Race Forward Video Producer Tiye Rose. Here, Alabanza provides some context:

Q: Since Facing Race was created in 2004, it has been located in cities around the country… What does it mean to have the conference in Atlanta, a historic epicenter for racial justice work regionally and nationally?
Alabanza: I think having Facing Race here in Atlanta is an acknowledgement of the past work the South and Atlanta has done around Racial Justice. It serves as a reminder to the new Atlanta that, Atlanta does this work, is committed to this work and can not be erased from the work. Facing Race in Atlanta, reminds us that when the South makes move towards justice the rest of the country follows. “Atlanta Influences EVERYTHING” — Ben Joiner

Q: What was the concept behind this video welcoming people to Atlanta?
Alabanza: The Concept of the video was to show the many faces of Atlanta in the most authentic way possible. To center a visual of Atlanta that isnt often seen, but is well and alive in the city. The video welcomes you to an Atlanta that feels like home where real people live real lives. If you listen to the poem you hear the city’s joy and pain, they co-exist among Old and New ATL. The video also happily reminds us that Atlanta is STILL a Black city and that should be celebrated as that. Black centered cities, hardly exist due to displacement and a slew of injustice.

Q: For a year now, you’ve been coordinating a local host committee dedicated to local racial justice movement-making, and put together a local bus tour… can you tell us about that work and the local energy around the conference?
Alabanza: It’s been an honor to work with the Host Committee. A Host Committee made up of so many different walks of life all committed to racial justice in some shape or form. A Host Committee that worked really hard to find a way to center Atlanta as it helped organize a National Conference. We did a really good job of centering Atlanta leading up to the Conference via the wrap around activities such as the “Tale of Two Cities” Atlanta Bus tour, “Still the Black Mecca” Symposium, Percolate Art Initiative and more.  

In general, the energy is way up high about the loads and layers of justice oriented work happening in the city. Having the Conference here amplifies the work the city has always did and excites it even more to push through for our Beloved Atlanta, the one so many folks are working tirelessly to preserve in the face of injustices.