Case Study

Roadwork Oral History Project

The achievement of equity, justice and inclusion requires changes in law and culture. Therefore, cultural strategies that organize for political and social change through art, music, theater, performance, dance, community-building, are vital to the success of social movements. This has been especially true for movements challenging norms of gender and sexuality as they engage tradition (religious, cultural, family or national traditions, to name some).

Despite its centrality, the cultural-work of social justice movements remains among the least documented and understood of all change strategies. This oral-history and film project documents a cultural political movement that organized women artists' voices in music, poetry, dance and film to build and mobilize a community engaged fpr racial, gender, sexual, and economic justice, and global human rights.

Roadwork was a multi-racial, feminist, cultural political organization based in Washington DC from 1977-1995. It was black-feminist and lesbian-led, anti-imperialist, radically inclusive, and liberationist in all its work. It produced cultural spaces and events that fostered an intersectional consciousness and advanced social justice causes.

This project will document the experience of the women and men who created and worked with the grassroots-group, Roadwork. Oral histories will be videotaped and the tapes will be made available for researchers and activists through an affiliation with a major academic or cultural institution (to be determined). A 2018 concert at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival will celebrate the 40th anniversary of Roadwork and its original DC-area festival, Sisterfire.


Roadwork Center for Culture in Disputed Territories


To create an oral history and archive that documents the impact of Roadwork, a multi-racial cultural political organization that promoted and supported women artists.



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