Afrofuturism: Building a Beloved Future

To honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s life and legacy, the Rowland Hall community will engage in a series of events and conversations to prompt reflection and foster solidarity towards action. Dr. King’s articulation of the “beloved community” emphasizes the necessity of individuals uniting across differences to build a trusting, loving, and better world for all. This year, we will explore the theme of Afrofuturism as a way to imagine a beloved future together, one where everyone can be themselves in multifaceted ways.

Afrofuturism is a cultural aesthetic that engages science, technology, and the arts to envision possible futures through a Black cultural lens. As Rio Cortez, author of Golden Ax and one of our featured guests, defines it:

Afrofuturism “seeks to envision a future for Black people at the intersection of imagination and science fiction, a future that also seeks to remember the Black past…”

Afrofuturism prompts us to ask: who occupies our imaginations? When we dream of the future, who is included or left out? Our community will engage these questions to examine historical and contemporary barriers to the inclusion of Black individuals and communities within our collective imagination. Through poetry, dance, discussion, and reflection, community members will confront the limitations of their imaginaries in order to expand their horizons towards greater inclusion and possible futures for all.
At a time of increasing division, Building a Beloved Future encourages each of us to recognize our role in working towards realizing Dr. King’s vision of becoming the beloved community through love, understanding, and solidarity.

Beloved Events

Afrofuturism, Frontiers, and Pioneers: A Poetry Reading with Rio Cortez

Thursday, January 12, 7 pm
Larimer Center for the Performing Arts

This poetry reading is part of Rowland Hall’s weeklong celebration of the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Rio Cortez, who was born and raised in Salt Lake City, will be reading from her new poetry collection, Golden Ax. Golden Ax explores personal, political, and artistic frontiers, moving from Cortez's family’s history as “Afropioneers” in the American West to visionary glimpses of liberated futures. Her work examines what it means to be Black in Utah, what is at stake in linking our imaginations with blackness, and how to re-imagine the West when centering Black communities.

Learn more about Rio Cortez

RSVP to reserve your seat(s)

Building a Beloved Future: A Daylong Program for Students

Friday, January 13

Middle and Upper School students will learn about Afrofuturism and engage in conversations about building a “beloved” community throughout the day. They will participate in activities featuring dancers, poetry, and films and reflect on the connection between our imaginations and questions of belonging and inclusion. Students will engage with Aniya Butler, who is both a youth climate activist and poet committed to raising awareness about environmental justice, as well as Rio Cortez, whose family legacy tied to Utah is represented in her recent poetry collection. Students will also reflect on how the arts can help us reimagine history through visions of the future and work together to produce visual representations of what a beloved future, where everyone is celebrated and can be themselves, would look like.

Learn more about Rio Cortez and Aniya Butler

Changemaker Chapel for Lower School Students

Friday, January 13

Lower School students will learn about and reflect on the idea of a beloved future leading up to this day. During this event, they will learn about Aniya Butler’s work as a youth climate activist and poet to envision a more inclusive world. Building a Beloved Future allows younger students to express what they need to feel belonging and how they might imagine a world where everyone feels included and valued. Students will continue the tradition of creating an artifact by articulating what a beloved future would look like and how they might contribute to making this world possible.

Beloved Community Project