UPTOWN — An evening of art and performances Tuesday will commemorate the birthday of organizer Malik Alim, who died in 2021.
The event is 6:30-9:30 p.m. Tuesday at Haymarket House, 800 W. Buena Ave. There will be sound and visual galleries, poetry and music.
Alim, 28, was a well-known figure in Chicago’s organizing community. He was involved with Chicago Votes, the Black Youth Project 100, the Chicago Community Bond Fund and Defund CPD, among other social justice initiatives. He died in a boating accident in August 2021.
Poet Kristiana Rae Colón, Alim’s partner, said community support is what helped her through the “unfathomable tragedy” of losing him — and it’s what inspired Malik Eternal, the event commemorating Alim.
“I wanted to channel the energy that really fueled our union, our relationship, our partnership and our love, which is the energy of creativity and collaboration and community,” Colón said. “I really believe that culturally we are sorely lacking in spaces for collective grief and celebration after someone has transitioned from the physical to spiritual plane.”
Artists Angeli Davis Fegan, Fantasía Ariel, Melissa Mimms, Liz Gomez, Molly Galloway, Christopher “ThoughtPoet” Brown, Dionne Victoria and Najee Zaid will present work at the event.
E’mon Lauren, Chicago’s first youth poet laureate, will perform alongside DJ Sadie Woods and DJ L O Kari. Colón said Woods will also present a “sound monument” to Alim: a custom mixtape with clips of his voice, inspired by music Alim played on his podcast, “The ReUp.”
Admission to the event is a suggested donation of $15-$25, with all proceeds benefiting the Seeds of Life fund, a resource founded by the two mothers of Alim’s children, Colón and filmmaker Johnaé Strong, to support the kids, Jari and Orí.
Strong will also debut a documentary tribute to Alim, “Unstoppable,” at the event. Along with featuring Alim’s two children, the film explores Alim’s impact on Strong as an artist and activist, she said.
“We organized together, we got arrested together, we strategized together, we had a child together,” Strong said. “It’s just another way to tribute someone who just was way, way larger than even this world with his ambition, his drive and his optimism for a better world.”
The documentary also highlights the permanent memorial to Alim at the Breathing Room Gardens and Farm at 1434 W. 51st St. Colón created the space through the #LetUsBreathe collective, an alliance of artists and activists which she co-founded.
Strong said the memorials have allowed Alim’s children to continue remembering their father and experiencing his legacy.
“Honoring Malik means being optimistic in the most pessimistic world,” Strong said. “He didn’t need to be in the center of attention. …He was someone who really deeply believed in service and in holding up Black women and Black people, so I think honoring him is to follow in that energy.”
Colón, who plans to host the Malik Eternal events annually, said bringing together artists and activists has also been a key goal of the memorial events. She and Alim were entrenched in the communities of visual artists, poets, musicians and social justice activists across Chicago, she said.
Throughout Alim’s work, he was deeply committed to uplifting other Chicago creatives, Colón said.
“His podcast, ‘The ReUp,’ was all about platforming those people in our community whose genius needs to be memorialized and recognized,” Colón said. “My eternal commitment to him is to do that for him.”