Workshop Title: “Coming To The Table: Having the Clumsy, Courageous Conversation on Race“
Inspired by the vision of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in his “I Have a Dream” speech that one day “the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood, two women (with different backgrounds but share the same history) have come together at the table. But can descendants of slaves and of the enslavers form rich and lasting relationships? How are they promoting racial equality and social justice at their own dinner tables? Join Coming To The Table-RVA Co-conveners Martha Rollins and Danita Rountree Green as they explore the challenges of reaching across racial, political and societal lines together.
Coming To The Table-RVA is part of a national organization committed to racial healing and social equity. Coming To The Table’s vision is for a just and truthful society that acknowledges and seeks to heal from the racial wounds of the past by: Uncovering History, Making Connections, Working Toward Healing, and Taking Action.
Martha Rollins is a community activist and philanthropist who grew up in Martinsville and graduated from Duke University with degrees in religion and teaching. In 1963 she completed an internship at the Henry Street Settlement in New York City. After moving with her husband to Richmond, she joined other residents of the city’s Carillon neighborhood to fight racially discriminatory real estate practices, thereby helping it become, and remain, a diverse neighborhood stabilized by a culture of friendship.
In 1975 she established Martha’s Mixture, a popular antique shop that helped anchor the revitalization of Carytown, a local shopping district. Combining her passion for diverse communities, social justice, and economic development, she used her business skills and networks to establish Boaz & Ruth, a faith-based nonprofit located in an economically challenged neighborhood. Working with neighbors, Boaz & Ruth intertwined a second-chance reentry program with social enterprises, including two thrift stores, a café, and furniture refinishing, moving, and construction services, as well as restoring more than a dozen abandoned buildings in the area.
Her success has attracted national attention and in 2006 she was one of the recipients of the inaugural Purpose Prize, which recognizes individuals over age 60 who have developed innovative ways to address the country’s biggest social problems. Before retiring from Boaz & Ruth in 2013, Martha Rollins, along with 100 nonprofit leaders, was honored at the White House by President Obama. In 2017, Martha received the Virginia Women in History award. (Biography from the Library of Virginia)
Danita Rountree Green (R Satiafa) is an author and trauma healing facilitator, conducting workshops addressing community trauma and race related issues. A trained therapeutic art and restorative language specialist, Danita uses storytelling to unravel self-defeating narratives, helping people move through personal, community and historical trauma. As co-convener of Coming To The Table – RVA, she facilitates the constructive yet clumsy conversation on race and the legacy of the American Slave Trade.
With five national tours, Danita has shared the stage with Iyanla Vanzant, Levar Burton and Dr. Bernice King. Her work has been featured in Style, Essence and Richmond Magazines as well as USA TODAY and The Wall Street Journal. In 2013, she served as a chairperson for the 8th Annual Arts in Society Conference held in Budapest, Hungary, where she presented her research on restorative language to delegates from 27 countries. At home, she is the art specialist for the City of Richmond, creating therapeutic word-based programs for children and adults.
Danita is best known for The Love Locked Down Series – a collection of works that address the effect of prison culture, and AND THEN There’s Hope , a multi-dimensional fine art program targeting Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE). Her other titles include Broom Jumping: A Celebration of Love (Entertaining Ideas) and Grandmother’s Gift of Memories: A keepsake Journal for African American Women (Broadway Books).
With degrees from both the University of Virginia and the Maryland University of Integrative Health, Danita believes language leads change. She is currently vice Chair of the Richmond Public Library Board of Trustees and Executive Liaison for The Peace Culture Club, an artists consortium cultivating a generation of resilient non-violent youth.