From the June 8, 2020 Aspen Young Leaders Fellowship newsletter: "Many of you know that I was inspired to act a few years ago after the tragic loss of Michael Brown’s life in Ferguson, Missouri. I vowed then to use my position, and frankly my privilege, to amplify the voices of young leaders too often marginalized from opportunity by a system that advantages some over others, regardless of talent. The goal is to build a critical mass of young leaders in regions who could work together to create change, drawing on the principle-based leadership skills that I learned so well as a Henry Crown Fellow. In short, the goal was to provide the necessary opportunities to maximize their inherent talents and accelerate their potential as leaders.
Since then we have launched fellowship classes in St. Louis, Newark, and the Mississippi Delta. This year we will build our first cohort in Chicago. We have created an active fellowship, refined our curriculum, added experiences, projects and internships. We have supported our alumni and have plans to keep them connected for years to come.
With the goal of sharing a variety of experiences as well as social solidarity in mind, I was recently presented with an opportunity to bring the youth fellows and friends in community with people from around the world by participating in the global live exhibit of Felix Gonzalez-Torres’ work, “Untitled” (Fortune Cookie Corner), 1990. The live exhibit runs from May 25th-July 5, 2020.
The exhibit launched last week, coincidentally on the very day that George Floyd was so cruelly killed in Minneapolis. Since then, events in the U.S. have been changing rapidly, with mass protestors marching for a better future, holding our country accountable for the ideals espoused in our founding. These events make the live exhibition no less important today than it was last week, or in 1990, when it was presented as an invitation to partake in a simple, common experience at the height of the AIDS crisis. Our participation allows us to chronicle in a unique way the seriousness of our life experiences through art; to express emotion, dreams and drive, with the honor of doing so within a global community. We also act while referencing other times in our nation’s history when people were divided, communities were organizing and marching to be seen and heard, and against the backdrop of another mysterious, deadly illness.
Our youth fellows are now engaged and crafting their responses. For the next phase of the exhibition period, I want to invite you to take part and actively engage in the experience as well."