SWAG the vocal ensemble was founded in February 2013. The SWAG Foundation as a 501c(3), non-profit came into existence in January 2018 by Mike Sese, Sanford Smith, & Jeff Benson, after discovering a need to change the narrative and to consider current problems with underserved, underrepresented communities of color (elderly & youth), social justice, war, racism, immigration, mass incarceration, religion, LGBTQIA & Queer homophobia, and national discourse. The SWAG Foundations mission is to build a global social justice movement to end these atrocities while working to eliminate the racial inequities in our own communities and around the globe. There is a need for intersecting policies that are equally multidimensional in ending systematic racism and homophobia in school and work.
From its inception, SWAG has provided a safe environment for music production, staging & development, arts exchange, and dialogue between generations of vocal musical activists, community members, LGBTQIA individuals, and academics from all communities and cultures. In order to facilitate these intersectional & intergenerational conversations, The SWAG foundation seeks to enlist tactical support from My Brothers Keeper, The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the youth divisions of Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the NAACP, the Congress on Racial Equality, Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network, the National Black Justice Coalition, Human Rights Commission, Historically Black Colleges & Universities, National Civil Rights Museum, among others.
This strategic planning led to years of dialogue, committee meetings in communities all over the country including the San Francisco Bay Area, Salt Lake City Utah, Jackson, MS, Selma, Birmingham, Alabama, Charlotte, NC, Greenville, SC, & Knoxville, TN. SWAG would like to continue its work with Youth primarily from the black & brown communities, and San Jose, Oakland where we want to build coalitions with the Latino & Asian & Indian community, and to the Tribal Nations of the West to bring the indigenous youth into the conversation, and in The Philippines where we want to engage the youth & Elder leaders from the Asian and Pacific Islander community, and those victimized by justice miscarried, the opportunity to instruct our black and brown communities and youth about the commonality of class experience and poverty & LGBTQ homophobia across racial lines. These tour stops and places we’ve performed and assembled, taught SWAG that there were powerful parallels in their, LGBTQ, civil and human rights struggle in this country. And that message of inclusivity, that work of uncovering the common ground that unites peoples from diverse communities – that is the best work of The SWAG Foundation. And that work continues, and is more vital than ever.
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