Speaking Down Barriers





  • Visual Art
  • Literature

Geographical Availability

  • Upstate


Speaking Down Barriers’ mission is equity for all. We have two strategic imperatives; end oppression and value everyone. SDB transforms our life together across our differences, including race, by facilitating community dialogue that centers poetry and art.

We dream big! We strive to transform the way people think about race, gender, class, religion, sexual orientation, and national identity. We successfully achieve this goal via facilitated dialogue enhanced by spoken word, healing spaces, and ally education mobilization. Speaking Down Barriers has its early roots in a regular, ongoing gathering of community members—which was first called Poetry and Conversation. We initially used spoken word poetry to launch dialogue around the true stories of marginalized people. These sometimes-difficult conversations have tackled painful subjects like police brutality, privilege, intersectionality, mass incarceration, and others.

The buzz regarding the impact of the transformative nature of our early meetings started to grow. We now call that popular program Community Gathering. Our more recent programs are: Healing Us, Learning Us, and Reading for Transformation, a monthly study group that features books about black lives; the LGBTQ experience; global oppression; indigenous healing; and transformative ways of working. As a result of our success in creating spaces for people to work together to heal the trauma of oppression, Marlanda was recently invited to attend the 2016 Summit for Change in Washington, DC.