Girls Rock Athens is a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering girls, women and trans/non-binary folks of all backgrounds and abilities through music education, creation and performance. We provide leadership opportunities, build self-esteem and provide people of marginalized genders with a safe place to express themselves.
I have volunteered with GRA since 2015 as a bass guitar teacher and band coach for our summer camp programming for kids. In 2017, I became a media intern. I maintain the blog during camp weeks, interview volunteers for our newsletter and highlight local changemakers for our Activist Spotlight.
ACTIVIST SPOTLIGHT: Rashaun Ellis
In a 19-bedroom house called Morningstar in a commune called the Farm, nudity is commonplace.
Once, Rashaun Ellis stepped out of the shower – the only one in the house – to find a five-year-old boy brushing his teeth at the sink. Another time, an elderly housemate casually walked in on her when she was using the bathroom and proceeded to take a shower.
“One day, I was taking a poop, and a sixty-year-old man named Harold walked in completely naked and started to shower,” Ellis said, laughing. “Harold walked naked from his bedroom to the bathroom – the bathroom was downstairs and outdoors – with a towel on his shoulder.”
Ellis says Harold was a great roommate.
Born and raised in Mississippi, Ellis is a bold Black woman of about 35 with a southern accent, a contagious laugh and a tendency to swear. Since spending her twenties in communes, land trusts and Washington, D.C., the activist settled in the Classic City, where she’s worked at a community-owned grocery store, co-founded the Athens Queer Collective, led workshops in white allyship, and started writing for The Flagpole, the local alt-weekly with a cynical, liberal tone that suits her perfectly.
ACTIVIST SPOTLIGHT: Mokah-Jasmine Johnson
“Most Athenians remember the 2015 scandal over General Beauregard’s, the Confederate-themed bar on Clayton St. that closed for days after being caught serving a drink with a racial slur in its name.
People took to the streets of downtown to protest the bar and rally against discrimination. The march drew attention to the poor treatment of minorities among many of Athens’ bars and businesses, from explicit racism like the drink’s name to subtler practices such as the establishment of exclusionary and presumptuous dress codes.
It was also one of the first major projects organized by local activist Mokah-Jasmine Johnson, for whom ‘improving race relations [and] addressing systemic racism and discrimination on all levels’ are not only goals but primary passions…” Read more –>
Girls Rock Camp Daily Blog // Summer 2017
“On Monday morning, the volunteers greeted our 18 campers and gathered in our main room to set the Group Agreements for the week. Rather than establish rules such as ‘raise your hand before you speak’ or ‘be quiet,’ we prefer our campers work together to come up with agreements that they all feel will provide them with the best camp experience.
Next, we assembled for instrument instruction: the campers chose from guitar, keyboard, bass guitar, drums, and rap. Volunteers, almost all of whom are performing musicians themselves, spend an hour and a half each morning helping students gain a working knowledge of the basics of their instrument of choice so that they can work from what they learn when building a song with their bands…” Read more –>