Lorde’s Werq: Black Leadership Development Cohort
In 2017, SONG launched the BLM Cohort leadership development project as a pilot in the state of North Carolina. We sought to develop, sharpen, and strengthen of a body of 15 Black queer, trans and gender non-conforming leaders across the state. Over the course of a year, these member-leaders have loved on, supported, and lifted up Black leadership, fortified connections to each other for the road ahead. From Asheville, Charlotte, to Durham, BLM Cohort members led work on the ground, including freeing Black Mamas from jails across the state during our Black Mama’s Bail Out Action. In the process, cohort members gained skills in healing practices, communications, base-building, and direct action campaign organizing. In 2018, the cohort transformed into a regional cohort that was made up of 50 Black queer, trans, and gender non-conforming leaders from 21 cities/towns across the Southeast; and was renamed “The Lorde’s Werq.”
The Lorde’s Werq is a cohort-based leadership development project for Black Queer, Trans*, and GNC identified organizers and emerging leaders across the South. This is for us: gender benders, t-guys, t-girls, stealth, fish, voguing femmes, non-binaries, gender queers, no labels, drag impersonators, androgynous, PreOps, PostOps, grrrrls, bois, kweens, kings, shims, he-shes, gender creatives, and two-spirits. This is for us butch queens, deep dykes, same gender lovers, backwoods butches, hard femmes, power bottoms, stems, and stud kings. This is for us: people with disabilities, immigrants, formerly incarcerated folks, rural folks, workers, hustlers, parents and people who rarely see our leadership prioritized. We will work to build trust and alignment, so that we can move powerfully together and in our hometowns toward Black liberation in our lifetimes.
Member-leaders will spend a year developing core organizing skills, building an ongoing circle of support, and engaging in shared work together. We will begin with an assessment of each person’s leadership development along a set of core organizing skills and an inventory of skills people desire/need to grow, then assess and revise goals at our winter gathering. During our regional convenings, cohort meetings, and monthly video conferences, member leaders will receive training in: base building, meeting facilitation, strategic communications, logistics, coalition and alliance building, direct action, and cultural organizing.
We believe that we are transformed in the service of the work and that there is no substitute for rolling up our sleeves and putting our hands to the plow. Leaders are not born in classrooms, but trained in the streets. All cohort members will devote an average of 2-5 hours per week to strengthening their own leadership and building power for the duration of the one year time commitment. In line with SONG’s goals, we seek to build SONG’s base and membership, end money bail, confront the Prison Industrial Complex, and grow our collective resilience. Members of The Lorde’s Werq will participate in SONG’s membership convenings and work in partnership with the Movement for Black Lives.
Photo Album for 2019-20 Cohort – 1st Gathering
Photo Album for 2019-20 Cohort – 2nd Gathering
Applications for the 2019-20 cohort are closed at this time.