SONG announces cohort expansion

ATLANTA, Ga. — Southerners on New Ground (SONG) has announced the expansion of its North Carolina Black Leadership Development Cohort.

In 2017, SONG launched the cohort leadership development project as a pilot in the state of North Carolina. It sought to develop, sharpen and strengthen of a body of 15 Black queer, transgender and gender non-conforming leaders across the state.

For the past year, these member-leaders have “loved on, supported and lifted up Black leadership, fortified connections to each other for the road ahead,” the organization shared. Throughout North Carolina cohort members led worked on the ground, including freeing Black Mamas from jails across the state during its Black Mama’s Bail Out Action. In the process, cohort members gained skills in healing practices, communications, base-building and direct action campaign organizing.

In 2018, SONG is launching The Lorde’s Werq — an expansion of the leadership development program to include up to 50 organizers and emerging leaders across the South to “Squad Up. Skill Up and Slay.”

The Lorde’s Werq is a cohort-based leadership development project for Black queer, transgender and gender non-conforming identified organizers and emerging leaders across the South who will work to build trust and alignment, so “we can move powerfully together and in our hometowns toward Black liberation in our lifetimes.”

Member-leaders will spend a year developing core organizing skills, building an ongoing circle of support and engaging in shared work together. They will begin with an assessment of each person’s leadership development along a set of core organizing skills and an inventory of skills people desire/need to grow, then assess and revise goals at our winter gathering. During SONG’s regional convenings, cohort meetings and monthly video conferences, member leaders will receive training in base building, meeting facilitation, strategic communications, logistics, coalition and alliance building, direct action and cultural organizing.

SONG believes that “we are transformed in the service of the work and that there is no substitute for rolling up our sleeves and putting our hands to the plow. Leaders are not born in classrooms, but trained in the streets.” All cohort members will devote an average of 2-5 hours per week to strengthen their own leadership and build power for the duration of the one year time commitment. In line with SONG’s goals, it seeks to build SONG’s base and membership, end money bail, confront the Prison Industrial Complex, and grow its collective resilience.

Members of The Lorde’s Werq will participate in SONG’s membership convenings and work in partnership with the Movement for Black Lives.

The goal for 2018 is to have a cohort of 50 people from across the region. The application deadline is March 30 and can be facilitated online at Applicants will be notified April 10-12. For more information about the application process, email Nicole at


Hotel launches wedding contest

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Kimpton Hotels has launched its “Love Conquers All” wedding giveaway contest which provides for one couple in the Carolinas to win an all-expenses-paid wedding at Kimpton Tryon Park Hotel in Uptown Charlotte, N.C.

Through March 14, couples across the Carolinas are invited to enter via email to LGBTQ couples are encouraged to enter.

Couples are asked to submit their personal, heartfelt 500-word essays and supporting 90-second-or-less videos and/or five or fewer photos illustrating how they have conquered a significant challenge together, relying upon each other in the face of adversity. The stories of the three finalists, as selected by a panel of judges, will then be posted on Kimpton Tryon Park’s Facebook Page, where the public will select the grand prize winner by casting votes in a private poll. The winning couple will be announced via social media on April 16.

Kimpton will provide a complimentary 100-person wedding. Planned by wedding planner Kristin Taylor Events, the package will include a ceremony, cocktail reception, celebration dinner and reception, professional photography, florals, dance floor, lighting, sound system, custom wedding cake and overnight accommodations for the newlyweds at Kimpton Tryon Park.

The first and second runner-up couples will each receive an overnight stay in one of the hotel’s suites and dinner for two at the hotel’s Angeline’s restaurant. In addition, three participating voters will also be selected at random to win an overnight stay at the hotel.

For rules and more information, visit


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Lainey Millen

Lainey Millen was formerly QNotes' associate editor, special assignments writer, N.C. and U.S./World News Notes columnist and production director from 2001-2019 when she retired.