SONG January Updates, Events & Happenings in NC, VA, AL + SC !

alabama bridge 2011
With our allies in SC

Dear SONG,

Happy New Year + we hope all of you had a powerful and reflective MLK Day. Thank you to all of you who dug deep and gave to our End of Year Love offering as well as those of you that renewed your membership. YOU are who make SONG what we are!!

January is already off to a great start – and we’re gearing up because we know 2012 is gonna be a wild ride!

Some highlights include the NC Campaign’s gathering momentum, including gearing up for a 100 person NC Community Summit next week, a 300 person Peoples Movement Assembly at Creating Change at the end of January and Welcoming Kate Shapiro to the SONG staff as one of our senior organizers.

Scroll down for updates from our field staff in AL, SC, VA and NC!!

Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King’s Legacy

“I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial “outside agitator” idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.”


MLK Letter from a Birmingham Jail


SONG Co-Director Nominated to be a Grand Marshall at the Annual MLK March in Atlanta, GA.

ms. p
Paulina Helm-Hernandez

On Martin Luther King Day, in Atlanta’s Annual March MLK March, our very own co-director Paulina Helm-Hernandez was asked to be a Martin Luther King Honorary Grand Marshall and speaker. This is an enormous honor and we give thanks to the Bayard Rustin / Audre Lorde Annual MLK Brunch committee for this honor of SONG’s work in Georgia, and to Bayard Rustin, Audre Lorde, our elders, SONG founders, and and all those that have created such an incredible Black & Multi Racial LGBTQ southern legacy for the rest of us to enter into, be a part of, and continue to build and expand!   Read the full story HERE. 


NC State-Wide SUMMIT – JAN 19th-22nd CHARLOTTE:

In North Carolina we are having a 100 person state-wide Summit leadership to focus on leadership development–particularly in Black LGBTQ communities amidst our campaign work to defeat the anti-family, anti-gay amendment in NC.

Registration is still OPEN and can happen onsite, but the scholarship deadline is closed.
Click HERE for more information on the Summit or
contact Bishop Donagrant McCluney at 828-242-7103 &
SONG NC Vote4Dignity Campaign!!

SONG is currently engaged in an expansive campaign to Defeat the Anti-Queer Amendment One to define Marriage, and we’ve joined with an unprecendented, multi-racial coalition called The Coalition to Protect ALL NC Families, including NC NAACP and many other partners and allies in this fight…we are planning ‘Race to the Ballot’ a grassroots media and organizing tour to visit the entire state of NC.  Our goal is to have ONE MILLION conversations with voters about how this amendment hurts families, and creates a homophobic wedge to distract people in NC from the real problems of lack of jobs, violence, and oppression.

For more information about SONG’s work in NC and / or to join any upcoming actions, contact our NC staff folks:
Kai Barrow at 917-701-9180 &
Bishop Donagrant McCluney at 828-242-7103 &

The Virginia SONG team is moving and shaking our way into the new year with so much fabulousness we don’t even know what to do with ourselves! We have been working hard to build relationships and collaborate with people seeking justice for our communities in this time of hardship and struggle, and we have been deeply moved by the resiliency, tenacity, and fierceness of the people we have come across including:


 love letter from Soulforce to SONG
Soulforce, an organization committed to freedom of LGBTQ people from religious and political repression. In early January the VA SONG team provided an intersectional, anti-oppression training to 15 LGBTQ people about to embark on their flagship Equality Ride to demand an end to discriminatory policies at colleges and universities across the country.


  • SONG collaborated with over 34 multi-racial, and multi-issue organizations in Virginia to build the Fourth Virginia People’s Assembly, a gathering of Virginia people demanding jobs, peace, and justice for our communities. The assembly included a networking conference, workshops, rally, and march and was on Saturday, January 14th. Reportback from the Assembly coming soon!
  • An amazing group of new SONG members committed to building SONG as a force to be reckoned with in Richmond, Virginia! They will be hosting the very first monthly Grits N’ Gravy Community Dinner on Thursday, January 19, from 6PM-8PM at the William Byrd Community Housein Richmond, VA (Follow us thru our SONG VA Tumblr!)

For more information about SONG’s work in VA, and to join any upcoming events & actions, contact our VA SONG staff:

Salem Acuña at 571-501-3613 &  and

Hermelinda Cortes at 804-386-7798 &


SC is also moving and shaking, while staying very, very gay! Help us spread the word to our folks in and around Charleston and Columbia about these important gatherings, trainings and events!

A few highlights and events coming-up include:

Vision 2012 with SONG and the Unity Fellowship Church of Charleston

February 2, 2012 (6:00pm – 8:00pm)

2810 Ashley Phosphate Road, Suite B-10 North Charleston, SC 29418

 Join SONG SC and UFCC for a visioning session of our dreams for 2012.

Community Organizing 101

February 11, 2012 (9:30am-2:00pm) Columbia, SC

Location TBA
Join SONG and PASOs, in a bilingual training, to learn the basics of base building, outreach and advocacy.
This training is designed to build leadership, create visibility and plan an event or action for participants to employ newly developed skills.

Legacies of Liberation Open Mic Fundraiser

February 24, 2012 Charleston, SC

Location TBA

Join SONG for an evening of poetry, stories, and songs about the rich history of anti-oppression work in the South!

For more information about SONGs work in SC and to join any upcoming events & actions, contact our SC SONG staff:

Lulu Martinez: & 773-319-4828 and Jenna Lyles: & 864-275-3633




alabama bridge 2011
Childrens March against HB56
In the aftermath of anti-immigrant HB56 – our work and the struggle against this racist anti-immigrant legislation continues to grow in Alabama. We continue our campaign and community research about how this is affecting our multiple communities, building our membership and base to help fight it, as well as joining forces with the Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice and continue to build relationships with Immigrant Rights and LGBTQ groups and people throughout the state who are also seeing how this anti-immigrant bill are being implemented throughout the Southeast and the country as another wedge issue to divide our communities, and that affect people who are most vulnerable in many of our communities (such as undocumented people, gender-non-conforming people, and people who have a higher chance of incarceration and detention by coming in contact with the Police / Immigration, such as people of color, working-class and poor people).
We will also be organizing a state-wide LGBTQ delegation March 3rd, 2012 to participate in the historic Bridge Crossing Jubilee – a Commemoration of the Selma to Montgomery Voting Rights    (March 1-5, 2012) Join Us!!
The SONG AL Community Survey is still open! Please share with us your thoughts & participate HERE! !

Stay tuned as our work develops — with an upcoming ALABAMA ORGANIZING SCHOOL and more!!

For more information about our work in Alabama and to join any upcoming events & actions, contact our AL SONG staff:
Mary Hooks at 404-307-0818 &

Will we see YOU at Creating Change in Baltimore, MD?

At the end of January, in collaboration with Project South, SONG will host a 300 person Queer People’s Movement Assembly at Creating Change, the biggest Annual LGBTQ activism conference in the US. This idea was born out of the need for our Movements to have many voices at the table as we figure out the next steps in National LGBTQ Movement Building strategies that has significant Southern leadership is OUR joint right and responsibility as people who believe in liberation!

Join us! For more info visit
Creating Change 2012 site.   

Welcoming Kate Shapiro to the SONG staff!!
song derby 2011
Moya, Kate Shapz and Rasha declare victory

We are thrilled to announce that long-time SONG member, and Georgia queer badass Kate Shapiro has joined the SONG Staff as a Senior Program Staff to help support our growing work in Georgia, South Carolina & Alabama.  She has already begin infusing her magic into our work, and you’ll be hearing more about her political work at SONG in the next few months, here’s a brief note from her to the SONG family:

Hey Fam – what an honor and delight to be joining the staff! SONG has been such an incredible home for me for many years and I look forward to passing some of that loving, strategizing, and support on in my work with y’all – just as Caitlin and P did with me!

Super excited to come on as one of SONG’s senior organizers – joining such a phenomenal team.

I’m a white, southern jew queer, from a mixed class background – with a background in popular political education, a little bit of electoral work, Immigrant Rights and LGBTQ youth organizing, co-operative economic development and food growing. 


I dream a world where we all know southern movement history like the back of our hand, where resources are redistributed and are being democratically controlled, where we are all healers, where we make what we need and are in continuous struggle to get free-er.

Oh, I also won the Dyke award at the Dick Dyke and Drag Derby this year – so just watch out. ;) Big Love and Looking forward,

-Kate Shapz!

You can learn more about Kate Shapiro aka Shapz! and the rest of the SONG staff HERE!  

To contact Kate, call our office at: 404-549-8628 & at


Renew your membership or become a new SONG member!!  Annual membership starts at $20 / year [on a sliding scale both ways]:


1. Donate online




2. Mail your check to

SONG / 250 Georgia Ave. Suite 201 / Atlanta, GA 30312


 In 2012, an online donation of $30 a month supports SONG’s work to:

  • Build General Leadership and Membership throughout the South (This is how we have moved our membership from 150 to 700 in 2.5 years!)
  •  Build Deeper Circles of Leaders throughout the region. In both local and state-wide strategies that help anchor critical work and long-term leadership throughout the South.
  • Support Local Leaders To Create Campaigns and Projects specifically in our key target states of NC, SC, GA, AL and VA where we are leading listening campaigns and building local projects.

Bayard Rustin Centennial 2012!!
MLK & Bayard Rustin
MLK & Bayard Rustin

2012 marks the 100th anniversary of Bayard Rustin’s birth, SONG Co-Founder Mandy Carter is the Bayard Rustin Centennial 2012 Project Coordinator at the National Black Justice Coalition!

2012 will be a year filled with commemorative, community-building and celebration events to commemorate Bayard Rustin’s legacy to the Civil Rights Movement and to ALL LGBTQ people as a major Civil Rights leader.

For more information and / or to join upcoming events and actions, contact Mandy Carter: 919-688-7500 &  /

SONG members, supporters and allies are a crucial part of all our movement work. Your (tax-deductible) paid membership makes it happen, and, of course, any gift is appreciated. In 2012 we look forward to keeping you involved with monthly updates, special articles, and event invites. Let’s keep building together!
In Loving Appreciation,

-Southerners On New Ground (SONG)

SONG believes all our identities, issues and lives are connected across race, class, culture, gender and sexuality. SONG is a membership-based, Southern regional organization made up of working class, people of color, immigrants, and rural LGBTQ people. We vision a world where the 3rd shift factory worker and the drag queen at the bar down the block see their lives as connected and are working together for liberation.

Want to know more about SONG’s new staff and how to connect with them and the work in their states? Click Here.