Truth School Response to Coronavirus (for now)

Dear Truth School Family,

I am writing to you now, on behalf of the leadership of the Sojourner Truth School for Social Change Leadership, about our response to the coronavirus crisis and how to keep folks safe as we move forward.  

This crisis is evolving and changing rapidly, so this is our best response as of today, March 11, 2020.

Please watch our website and our Facebook page for up-to-the-minute alerts and updates.  We will post new information as the situation changes and if we need to make further adjustments.

As of today, here are our thoughts with regard to moving forward with Truth School classes:

* All Truth School classes will be held, with the considerations, guidelines, and stipulations outlined below.

* Anyone planning on attending a Truth School class who has concerns or fears about participating and chooses to NOT attend the class because of the coronavirus, we support you fully.  We understand.  Please make your decision about participating in the class or not based on what is right for you medically and emotionally.  You have our full support, whatever you decide We ask that if you feel sick, you do not attend a TS class.

* If a Truth School trainer is ill or does not feel safe teaching the class, the class will be cancelled.

* If the site where the class is to be held does not want us to gather a group there, the class will be cancelled.  (We will not be moving classes to other locations.)

* Our classes are generally not large.  The Host, providing logistical support for the class, will ask all participants to sit safe distances from one another.  The Host will also have cleaning materials to disinfect surfaces that people might touch.

* Trainers are being asked to keep the class participants in a large group and suspend small group work, role plays, huddles, and anything that would require participants to be in close proximity or touch one another.

* Again, please check our website and FB page frequently for last-minute changes, announcements, and cancellations.  That is our best and fastest way to reach you!  (We will not be sending texts or making phone calls should classes be cancelled.) We do not want anyone appearing at a class that is cancelled because you did not get the news.  

Thank you for your vigilance.  And know that all of us at the Truth School are very eager to pull in together in a close and caring fashion emotionally–in terms of supporting and connecting with one another–as we are required to practice social distancing and literally keep each other at arm’s length.

We want to do everything possible to move forward in as safe and prudent a manner as we can.  We honor your personal decisions about what is best for you, and we will be monitoring this situation hour by hour.

Thank you for your involvement with the Truth School.  We value each one of you so much.

Warmly and my best wishes to you,  Andrea

Rev. Dr. Andrea Ayvazian

Showing Up Whole in Racial Justice Work: Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum

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Books to Read

How to Be an Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi

White Guys on Campus: Racism, White Immunity and the Myth of “Post-Racial” Higher Education by Nolan L. Cabrera

Where Do We Go from here: Chaos or Community? by Martin Luther King Jr.

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Some Notes from the Evening


Anti-racist work as calling

Children can’t imagine being something they haven’t seen – be white allies

Race is an invention; to move through it, not get stuck in it.

Tell stories. Empathy moves people to action. White people: Listen. Don’t ask people of color to tell their stories over and over again, it re-traumatizes.

Chaos or Community?

History shows that every wave of progress is met with a wave of push back. We are in the push back. And history shows us that every wave of pushback is met with another wave of progress.

Undoing whiteness is spiritual work – what is our worth without it, what is our value without it.

What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?

Saturday, July 6, 11:00 AM
“What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” Communal Reading
Historic Northampton, 46 Bridge Street

Join Mass Humanities for a public reading of Frederick Douglass’s 1852 speech, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” Part of a series of statewide events supported by Mass Humanities, the reading provides an opportunity to open up discourse between community members about race, rights, and our responsibilities to the past and to each other. Members of the public will take turns reading parts of the speech until they’ve read all of it, together. Everyone is welcome to read; this event is free and open to the public.

FB Event

Wisdom, Analysis and Inspiration from Seasoned Organizers – Panel Event (5/18)

Join us for a panel discussion with four experienced, radical activist/organizers! Q&A to follow.


Jo Comerford


National campaign director of

Netfa Freeman


Events coordinator and analyst for the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C., and an organizer for Pan-African Community Action

Jennifer Matias


Leadership coach, consultant, and trainer, Dance the Dream Coaching and Consulting for Social Justice and Social Change

Nelson Roman


Executive director of Nueva Esperanza, Holyoke Ward 2 City Councilor, activist and organizer

Join us March 9 for Why I March—Women Activists Speak Out!

Illustration of woman with bullhorn and image credit Jared Rodriguez /Truthout

The Truth School is proud to be a co-sponsor of “Why I March—Women Activists Speak Out,” which will be held March 9 at the Northampton Center for the Arts (33 Hawley St.).

Event organizers are still looking for women activists to speak. We know we have many powerful women activists with strong voices in our Truth School community, but you don’t have to be an experienced speaker to contribute your voice to this event. If you’re interested, sign up to speak!


Date: March 9
Time: 7 PM -10 PM
Location: Northampton Center for the Arts, 33 Hawley St., Northampton
Cost: Sliding scale $0-$15
For more information:


Cathy McNally of Women Speak Up!, Pioneer Valley Women’s March, Sojourner Truth School for Social Change, BadAss activists, Massachusetts for Equality and Racial justice, and more. (If your organization is interested in co-sponsoring, contact Cathy at

Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum Returns to Northampton

We were pleased to welcome Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum back to the Pioneer Valley  recently. Dr. Tatum, a Truth School Advisory Board member,  gave an insightful and inspiring talk at Edwards Church on October 18. It was standing room only, with attendees overflowing into the halls. The lively event included a performance by Amandla Chorus, a local group that sings “to celebrate life and to articulate social concerns.”

The evening’s talk was co-sponsored by the Truth School and Broadside Books, which quickly sold out of copies of Dr. Tatum’s new book, the 20th anniversary edition of Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? And Other Conversations About Race.

If you missed the opportunity to purchase a copy of the book, stop in to Broadside Bookshop at 247 Main St., Northampton, or order online on the Broadside website. Copies are also available at Forbes Library and other local libraries—but you may have to place a hold to read the popular book.

Photos ©2017 Travis Tatum