ABOUT US

LEARN ABOUT OUR STORY

Mission

Historic Clayborn Temple engages in culture and the arts inspired by the participants of the 1968 Sanitation Workers’ Strike. Clayborn seeks to embody their declaration of the humanity and dignity of Black, poor, and working-class people and to continue their legacy of advancing human understanding through storytelling, engagement, and practice.

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Clayborn Temple has been a part of Memphis and American History since 1892. First built and opened as Second Presbyterian Church, in 1949 the building was sold to an AME congregation who changed the name to Clayborn Temple.

Because of its reputation in the community and proximity to City Hall, Clayborn was chosen as the organizing headquarters for The Sanitation Workers’ Strike of 1968, Martin Luther King’s last campaign. The campaign’s iconic “I AM A MAN” signs were made daily in Clayborn’s basement and have since become a universal symbol for human rights and dignity.

In 1999, Clayborn Temple closed and fell into disrepair, but it has since reopened and begun revitalization. Officially named a National Treasure in 2018 by The National Trust for Historic Preservation, Clayborn has come back to life with the promise of leveraging the stories of the past to tell the stories of our collective future.

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Our mission, inspired by the 1968 Striking Sanitation Workers, is to continue their legacy of advancing human connection through storytelling, engagement, and practice. We do this by engaging in story, arts and culture, and embodying The Sanitation Workers’ declaration of humanity and dignity of black, poor, and working class people.

While Clayborn Temple is currently closed for restoration, our organization continues to implement story driven, community-centered programs that align with our vision. When we reopen in 2024, we will do so as a premier cultural arts center connecting downtown and historically Black South Memphis. We will be a breathtaking central space for gathering, celebration, story, and connection.

While under construction, we continue to bring Memphians together to lay the foundation for the future of Clayborn’s community based programs and explore through creativity and imagination, the values for which The Sanitation Workers so valiantly fought.

The $14M restoration of our building will include the realization of performance space, gallery space, a museum that chronicles the history of the building and The Strike, a center for community centered restorative economics, a library, and rental space for meetings, events, celebrations, and other gatherings.

Our vision is to:

  • See the building fully activated with robust arts programming featuring artists from Memphis and around the globe.
  • See the mission fully activated so that the intention of The Strikers lives on in our community programs.
  • Become a hub for Memphis’ thriving cultural economy and a home where all are welcome and safe to build community across race and class and work for the safety, freedom, and joy for all.
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Anasa Troutman

Executive Director
Anasa Troutman is a leader and a visionary focused on the future of culture. In her current role as executive director of Historic Clayborn Temple, Anasa was instrumental in acquiring the building in 2019 and founding a new organization to restore Clayborn and steward our team and our mission. A writer and producer by trade, Anasa has spent her life telling stories and finding ways for those stories to shape the way we see, experience, and interact with ourselves and others. Anasa attended Spelman college and enjoys music, dancing, reading and learning new things.
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Christine Anglin

Deputy Director
Christine Anglin is an organizer, strategist, and storyteller. Currently, she serves as the Deputy Director of Historic Clayborn Temple where she provides operational, administrative, and programmatic oversight. A skilled organizer and gifted program developer and manager, she has launched, directed, and produced shows and programs. She has a heart for community and connection. She holds a B.A. from The Howard University School of Business, and is an essayist, poet, and avid runner.
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Sydney Wessinger

Preservation Specialist
Sydney Wessinger is a graduate of Xavier University of Louisiana and a lover of history she brings several years of curatorial experience. As a storyteller she is dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of the African American narrative through a historical lens. Incorporating passion and professionalism she exhibits a strong work ethic and a desire to connect with her audience. Dedicated to service, she prioritizes the conservation of material culture as a necessary means in community revitalization. Sydney also holds a master's degree in Museology from Southern University and a master’s degree in History from Jackson State University.
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Vahisha Hasan

Programs Manager
Vahisha Hasan is a faith rooted organizer with a passion for well people and well systems. She is currently serving as the Program Director at the Historic Clayborn Temple, where she plans and implements programs that support the artistic, interpretative, and community based expressions of the organization. An ordained reverend, powerful public speaker, and transformative facilitator, she has published 4 books, contributed to published works, and written curriculum for an Applied Psychology Degree Program. She holds a Master’s of Divinity and Master’s of Mental Health Counseling with an Education Specialist Certification from Gardner-Webb University. Vahisha is her best self in community and can be found moving to the end of her own rainbow in the US South.
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Corey Martin

Office Coordinator
Corey Martin, known affectionately as “Corey Lou”, is a graduate of Alcorn State University of Mississippi and has a heart for soul and the ear of a true musician. He brings many years of performing and public relation experience. A singer, songwriter and storyteller, Corey came into this world as a born-to-be performer. With a hope that his music reaches whomever is meant to hear the message, Corey creates space, messages, and music with the intention for it to be a vehicle of generational “peace, good energy, and fellowship” into the world.