Concert of Colors Forum on Community, Culture & Race: Community Self-Determination

 6 – 8 p.m. EDT Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020
Concert of Colors Forum on Community, Culture & Race: Community Self-Determination

Broadcast on Detroit Public TV at and Facebook

Register to receive the streaming link via email

The Concert of Colors Forum on Community, Culture & Race, one of the Arab American National Museum’s signature annual events, is a dynamic gathering of artists, activists and advocates who use performance and dialogue as a tool for advocacy and community building. This year’s program will be presented online at and on Facebook live. Breaking bread together is a tradition during this signature event; we hope you’ll break bread with us and tune in during dinner!

The Forum’s theme this year, Community Self-Determination, speaks to the resilient power of communities who rely on their own strengths and talents to enact change in systems that are no longer serving them. The Forum will feature a legend who is no stranger to such resilience, founder of the Concert of Colors festival Ismael Ahmed, as keynote speaker, along with panelists/performers Leila Awadallah, ShoShona Kish, Sterling Toles and Malik Kenyatta Yakini, and moderator Charles Ezra Ferrell.

Concert of Colors, Detroit’s annual diversity festival, will be happening Oct. 6-11, 2020, broadcast on Detroit Public TV

More info + full concert lineup

Keynote Speaker:

Ismael Ahmed is the Concert of Colors festival founder, radio host of This Island Earth, and former executive director of ACCESS, appointed in 1983, where he was responsible for overall operations of the organization as well as the executive administration of the Arab American National Museum. The largest Arab American human services organization in the United States, ACCESS has affiliates in 11 states and offers more than 90 programs with more than 900,000 client contacts annually. Ahmed was also director of Michigan Department of Health & Human Services and Associate Provost and Senior Advisor to the Chancelor at University of Michigan–Dearborn.  


Leila Awadallah; LeilAwa is a Palestinian American artist working with embodied research and storytelling through dance performance composed within a human rights and social justice focus. Her artistic practice begins with ‘body watani’—centering the body as a sacred living archive of genetic/cellular memories of histories, lands and roots—a pathway towards healing and connectivity. LeilAwa’s projects and collaborations merge dance with mediums such as film, live music, theatre and durational installation performance pieces. LeilAwa performed with Ananya Dance Theatre for 5 seasons, and is a dance teacher and cultural activist, born and based on Dakota land.  

ShoShona Kish is an Anishinaabekwe community organizer, producer, activist, & international touring artist with the JUNO award winning band, DIGGING ROOTS. In 2018 she was recognized for her work with the Professional Excellence Award from WOMEX, “for her role in the ongoing revolution, using the medium of music as an agent of change, to awaken our humanity and help us connect”. She is the founder and Artistic Director of the International Indigenous Music Summit and she serves as President on the Board of Directors for Folk Music Canada. 

Sterling Toles is a sonic and visual artist that emerged from Detroit’s hip hop scene, educated completely in Detroit’s Cass Corridor before attaining BFA in Illustration from the College for Creative Studies. He has worked on media projects with youth through Detroit Summer, and art therapy in the Rosa Parks Youth Program. He has produced music for acts essential to Detroit’s music community such as Boldy James and Invincible, and scored short films and documentaries including Our School and Brewster Douglass: You’re My Brother. Sterling uses visual and audio expressions as a process of transcending identity to cultivate the ubiquity of love, and undo conditioning to allow the purest reception of the intuitive voice. He is a 2016 Kresge Fellow.  

Malik Kenyatta Yakini is a co-founder and the Executive Director of the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network (DBCFSN). DBCFSN operates a seven-acre urban farm and is spearheading the opening of a co-op grocery store in Detroit’s North End. Yakini views the “good food revolution” as part of the larger movement for freedom, justice and equality. He has an intense interest in contributing to the development of an international food sovereignty movement that embraces Blacks communities in the Americas, the Caribbean and Africa.  


Charles Ezra Ferrell is Vice President for Development and Global Programs at The Keiga Foundation headquartered in Troy, MI, with operations in Kampala, Uganda and Kassel, Germany. Ferrell is responsible for developing international and regional cultural exchange, literacy and social justice programs, in addition to expanding institutional partnerships and charitable giving. He is also Managing Director for Non-Profit Consultancy at The CMC Group in Roseville, Michigan. Ferrell was recently Vice-President for Public Programs and Community Engagement (2016 – 2020) at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, MI (where he began as a volunteer and consultant in 2012). His extensive programming portfolio of over 900 programs received international acclaim from leading scholars, activists and patrons for its quality and cultural relevance.


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Due to the pandemic, we have been closed to the public since March 13. Closed doors mean that our earned revenue streams have dried up, and corporate funds have been pivoted to assist with COVID-19 relief or for their own financial survival. We are looking forward to the day we can safely reopen, but until then, we need your support.

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  • October 6, 2020 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
  • 6:00 pm