Asali DeVan Ecclesiastes is a mother, daughter, wife, educator, event producer, spoken word artist, and community servant. As the Claiborne Corridor Program Manager, she leads the place-based community development of the City’s historic African-American neighborhoods, focusing on economic opportunity and cultural preservation. In addition to authoring the Essence Empowerment Seminars for five years, she produced the Congo Square African Marketplace at N. O. Jazz & Heritage Festival for a decade, has taught spoken word, social justice, and service learning at Tulane University, is co-founder of the Akoben Words-In- Action Festival and executive producer of the Tremé Community Festival, celebrating the oldest African- American neighborhood in the U.S. Her examination of how the flood of 2005 transformed the lives of women in the Gulf Coast is included in Swimming Upstream. The play she co-authored with a distinguished group of New Orleans women writers, has toured the country to sold-out audiences.

No matter her endeavor, Asali continually seeks opportunities to forward her mission of creating a platform for societal change through art and her vision of social justice for all humanity. Having had the privilege of presenting on stages and in classrooms across the country, Asali DeVan Ecclesiastes is presently creating her definitive work, To Each His Own, a collection of short stories exploring life and culture in her native New Orleans.

Speakin’ Up & Speakin’ Out! - In this short course participants will explore their literal and figurative voices and how to use them as tools in advancing their goals.  We will focus on spoken word as a platform for our voices, while acknowledging the power of other platforms from music to cultural critique to public speaking.  We will become familiar with the literary devices used to take an idea from inner exploration to outer expression and learn how the map of that journey becomes our “piece” and our “peace”.

To prepare for class, I ask that participants

  1. Come prepared to discuss one Fela Kuti song, one Sweet Honey in the Rock song, one Nina Simone song, and one Public Enemy song

  2. Watch you-tube videos of spoken word performances and bring to the class the name of one piece that really speaks to you

  3. Free write on the topic, “if when I spoke, images emerged instead of words, my picture-speak would look like…”