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Birthright AFRICA: a conversation

Paragon Arts Gallery, 815 N Killingsworth
815 N Killingsworth Street
Portland, OR 97217, US (map)



Join us at the Paragon on 9/22, 3pm for a conversation with Ashlesha Alexandra Johnson, the Founding Fellow and Program Director for Birthright AFRICA, a foundation which provides youths and young adults of African descent the opportunity to explore their cultural roots and legacy of innovation by providing free travel to Africa, to bridge the gap between African diaspora with African mainland.


This talk is part of the public programming for This is a Black Spatial Imaginary.

Ashlesha Johnson serves as the Creative Director and Program Director for Birthright AFRICA where she ensures effective operations of experiential travel and project-based learning opportunities for Fellows and Scholars. Ashley holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Columbia College Chicago after transitioning from The University of Chicago where she briefly studied Anthropology.

As a native of Chicago, Ashley was prepared in her youth to serve her role as a “woman for others” through her Jesuit education. She spent those years volunteering in a local soup kitchen and a local battered women’s home in her largely underserved, African-American neighborhood. The daily juxtaposition of these two environments and the realities of her service background had a profound impact and impassioned Ashley to engage her skills in public service. Upon graduating from Columbia College Chicago in 2007, Ashley taught a Garment and Textile course at the Anthony Overton Academy, which at the time was Chicago’s most underfunded grammar school and in the poorest neighborhood. At the Academy, Ashley was enlightened to the patterns and pathos of poor Black families and recognized not only the “school-to-prison pipeline” but the dearth of services provided to African American youth and young adults. After a year of service, Ashley moved to Mexico City where she re-engaged in textile arts working in an atelier and showroom designing garments. In 2012, Ashley continued her Fashion career moving to NYC and where she worked as an independent designer and consultant for up various brands and celebrity clients. She currently lives in Accra, Ghana where she is a startup entrepreneur in addition to serving the Birthright AFRICA program.

This is a Black Spatial Imaginary
This Is A Black Spatial Imaginary considers the movement and fixity of Black communities, by activating past, present and future spaces for Black life.