Guest expert/host for Session 3
Hannah du Plessis first met Bekezela at an eight-month long anti-racist trauma-informed yoga teacher training hosted by Felicia Savage and her team at Yoga Roots on Location. We invited her to hold Session 3—Working in systemic oppression and trauma—because we have experienced spaces held by Bekezela. We admire Bekezela’s joyful spirit, her commitment to justice, and her ability to cut through the clutter.
BEKEZELA MGUNI is a radical librarian, activist, artist and abundant bodied femme. She believes that the collective sharing of knowledge, beauty and inspiration is a part of life’s purpose and brings that intentional spirit to her work. Born in San Fernando, Trinidad, she immigrated to New York at the age of 11 and lived in the Caribbean neighborhoods bustling in the hearts of Brooklyn and Queens before coming to Pittsburgh. She has over 10 years of community organizing experience in Reproductive Justice movement, in which she has worked with LGBTQIA communities, youth, women and people of color. She collaborates with various artists, educators, healers and activists who seek to create new worlds and new meanings for this world.
Bekezela is a self taught and community educated artist. She holds a Masters in Library and Information Science from the University of Pittsburgh and participated in the first Librarians and Archivists with Palestine delegation in June of 2013. She completed her first micro-residency at the Pittsburgh creative hub Boom Concepts, launching the Pgh POC Zine Distro and was featured in the Exposure: Black Voices in the Arts exhibition, in the winter of 2015. She was a 2015-2016 member of Penn Ave Creative Accelerator Program with the Kelly-Strayhorn Theater and continued her examination of the relationship between literacy and liberation in her March and April 2016 artist residencies with the Black Unicorn Project’s Reading Room. Her work celebrates memory and storytelling as a means of cultural preservation and retention. The Black Unicorn Project is a Black, queer, feminist library and archive.
Bekezela was selected as an Emerging Artist in the 2016 Three Rivers Arts Festival and won the Judge’s Choice award for her work this year. She will be returning as an artist in 2017. She is currently working on the Activist Print Project, a partnership between the Andy Warhol Museum, Boom Concepts and printmaking studio Artist Image Resource (AIR). The Black Unicorn Project will launch its 4th installation/intervention of the Reading Room in November of 2016 in Allentown, Pittsburgh. She is enjoying serving as the Youth Services Librarian at the Sto-Rox Library and being a new member of Boom Concepts Studios. Both connect her to people of all ages and backgrounds, creativity and innovation. Which continually feed her social justice and artistic practices. She is interested in Black joy, resistance, legacy and possibilities.