Imagining America Brings Radical Reckoning to Providence

Grace Lee Boggs, the Providence-born organizer and educator, once said, “these are the times to grow our souls.” What we saw in her lifetime of work was that to “grow our souls” means to share a collective investment in one another’s well being, and by doing so, nurture more justice into this world. 

This October 20-22, College Unbound, the City of Providence’s Departments of Arts, Culture, and Tourism and Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, & Belonging, and AS220 will host Imagining America (IA)’s 2023 National Gathering, a consortium that brings together scholars, teachers, artists, and activists from around the country to collectively envision a more just and equitable nation – and world. 

This Gathering will take place not at a conference hall or campus center, but at spaces across our city – libraries, arts centers, and high schools–where learning is always already happening.  

We have learned as a nation these past several years, sometimes through struggle and pain. From the wake of George Floyd’s murder to the nationwide fight for racial justice, we have seen firsthand how crucial education is to a healthy democracy, and the power of organized communities to affect change. We have seen how civic participation needs a radical intentionality to undergird it, a collective imagination that connects activists across lines of class, race, and gender in a deeply felt and shared sense of justice.  

This year, under the banner of Radical Reckoning, the Gathering will look back at Providence’s history and together toward collective action amongst our communities of scholars, artists, and activists that will extend far beyond this October. 

For the City of Providence's Department of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging, this will mean sharing insightful programmatic contributions and invaluable guidance on the larger purpose of this convening, while also creating opportunities for Providence community organizations and artists to be involved in a meaningful and mutually beneficial way. 

For AS220, this will mean centering the brilliance of BIPOC artists through our anti-racist and radically inclusive programming, and committing to not only providing space for artists but also to nurturing the lifelong learning and growth that is essential to creativity. 

For College Unbound, our participation in the Gathering comes during an exciting transition time – we are over a year into our new five-year Strategic Plan, growing, adapting, and scaling our radical learning infrastructure, a model that has turned to IA throughout the years for space to incubate ideas and practices. We will also inaugurate a new President to lead our institution during the weekend. 

Imagining America and College Unbound exist together at the crossroads of institution building and a deep practice of both questioning the way things are and imagining the way the world could be. College Unbound's mission to reinvent higher education for adult learners needs platforms like IA to raise up their stories. If you are someone without a degree or looking for additional credits towards a degree or certification while making your way through this conference, we invite you to engage with College Unbound’s Learning in Public program where we will help you document your learning this weekend into a free credit-bearing transcript.  

We are all excited to be, grow, and learn with you in Providence this weekend – to grow our souls together and dream of a more equitable and just city. 

You can visit to learn more.

Adam Bush is the President and co-founder of College Unbound, an accredited college for adult learners with headquarters in Providence. 

Anjel Newmann is the co-executive Director of AS220, a non-profit community arts organization located in downtown Providence. She is a graduate of College Unbound and now serves as faculty as well.   

Silas Otniel Rodrigues Pinto, Ph.D. serves as faculty at College Unbound and is the Director of the Department for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging for the City of Providence.