The Mandate for Black people in this time:
To avenge the suffering of our ancestors.
To earn the respect of future generations.
To be transformed in the service of the work.

Mary Hooks

The 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.”


Squad up.
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.

Skill up.
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.


When is the application deadline?

  • Monday, April 15th, 2019 11:59 PM EST – Applicants will be notified on Friday, April 26th

Do I need a letter of recommendation?

  • Yes. Each applicant must submit two (2) letters of recommendation. Each letter should be sent directly from the recommender in Word or PDF format to Nicole at

What is the time commitment?

Participants 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.

  • *Saturday, May 4th, 2019: Orientation Call 1 PM – 3 PM EST
  • May 2019 – April 2020: Monthly video conferences, on the 1st Saturday of each month, 1 PM  – 3 PM EST
  • *June 13th – 16th, 2019: The Lorde’s Werq Leadership Summit in Atlanta
  • *November 7th – 10th, 2019:  The Lorde’s Werq Leadership Summit in Atlanta

*Attendance is mandatory

Does it cost to be a cohort member?

  • No. In fact, there is a $2,000 stipend available for each cohort member. The stipend will be allocated in three payments. Those who do not complete the cohort will not receive the remainder of their stipend. Food and lodging during the leadership summits are covered by SONG. Travel stipends and child care are also available for the leadership summits.

When will applicants be notified?

  • Applicants will be notified on Friday, April 26th, 2019.

Who can I contact if I have questions?