“They still want to kill us” | News and Media Relations Office

AMHERST, Mass. – On May 25 at 8 p.m., in a free virtual stream, the UMass Amherst Fine Arts Center will join a group of arts institutions across the country to create the short film “They Still Want To Kill Us”, about of a new tune by the composer and activist Daniel Bernard Roumain (DBR).

Directed by filmmaker Yoram Savion, the film features a mezzo-soprano J’Nai Bridges perform new DBR tune written to mark the 100th anniversary of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. DBR’s new work tells the truth about what happened in 1921 during the Tulsa Race Massacre, an atrocity almost swept under the rug and deleted from history until recently. The Fine Arts Center and its partner organizations are releasing the video on the first anniversary of George Floyd’s murder as a commentary on our progress over the past century on the issue of race and the United States’ treatment of black life.

After the May 25 premiere, the piece will continue to air on each presenting organization’s platforms until Saturday, July 31. The program will include the premiere of Savion’s video, and a discussion moderated by UMass Fine Arts Center Executive Director Jamilla Deria with DBR and Bridges, as well as a statement by Damario Solomon-Simmons of the Justice for Greenwood Foundation.

Learn more about the uncensored aria and the project at www.theystillwanttokillus.com.

“Daniel’s beautiful project was in need, and the nationwide response from all of these organizations quickly coming together to make it an even bigger version shows what can happen when people work together in this historic moment of computation. racial in the United States, ”says Deria. “Together, we imagine what more we could all do because we have achieved what is at stake for everyone in society. We have to lift each other up, and Daniel’s Project is a perfect vehicle for demonstrating both the brutal reality and the community potential of American society.

This social justice and global change work is produced by Rika Iino and Ichun Yeh of Sozo Creative with support from Phillips Theological Seminary in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and is commissioned by the Fine Arts Center at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, l ‘Apollo Theater, Opera Philadelphia, Capital One City Parks Foundation SummerStage Anywhere, Joe’s Pub, Stanford Live, University Musical Society at the University of Michigan, Zoellner Arts Center at Lehigh University, Creative Alliance, Bill Bragin and Washington Performing Arts. It is supported by National Sawdust and the Lotus Education and Arts Foundation, distributed by ActiveCultures, The Arts Center in NYU Abu Dhabi, Esty Dinur, globalFEST, ¡Globalquerque !, and HotHouse.

Composer’s statement

DBR: “What happened to American citizens on May 31, 1921 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, was a massacre perpetrated by whites on blacks. A toxic mix of disinformation, bigotry, ignorance and white rage has sparked a race war that has left hundreds dead, a community destroyed and a nation still struggling for its identity. It seems that some whites still want to kill us (blacks), and the murder of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd and so many others is proof of this bloodlust sown deep in the American psyche. What are the words and methods of the new racism? Every day, we witness it. Violence against those who are other in America is deeply rooted in our history, and we have a choice. We can be silent – or we can move mountains and create new spaces for our communities. “

Background to the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre and the film

During the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, which lasted for over 18 hours from May 31 to June 1, 1921, a white mob attacked residents, homes, businesses and places of worship in the Predominantly Black Greenwood neighborhood of Tulsa, Oklahoma. This thriving business district and the surrounding residential area known as “Black Wall Street” were burnt to the ground. The tragedy remains one of the worst incidents of racial violence in U.S. history and, for some time, remained one of the least known. Despite the fact that hundreds of people were killed and thousands more homeless, the reports were largely suppressed.

This work is filmed in May 2021 in the Sultan Hall in New York and at the historic Seneca Village site in Central Park. A 19th-century colony populated primarily by the largest number of African-American landowners in New York City before the Civil War, the site was demolished to make way for Central Park. 225 residents (two-thirds black and one-third Irish) lost 50 homes, three churches and a school for African-American children. Archival image references and an evocative visual narrative are used to link past and present, highlighting a pattern of hidden and historically ignored state violence and the forced displacement of African-American landowner communities across the country. country.

The aira is part of a larger pocket opera of the same name under development by DBR and set to premiere in the 21-22 season.

About the collaborators

DBRHis acclaimed work as a composer, performer, educator and activist spans more than two decades, and he has been commissioned by venerable artists and institutions around the world. “About as omnivorous as a contemporary artist gets it” (New York Times), DBR is perhaps the only composer whose collaborations span Philip Glass, Bill T. Jones, Savion Glover and Lady Gaga. He recently scored the film Ailey (d. Jamila Wignot), which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2021.

American mezzo-soprano J’Nai Bridges, known for its “rich, dark and exciting sound” (Opera news) is quickly becoming one of the most sought-after talents of his generation, gracing the world’s greatest stages in a repertoire ranging from traditional favorites to world premieres to spiritual and standards.

Yoram Savion is a filmmaker, writer and multimedia artist. Her award-winning, pan-genre screen work spans movement-based documentation, storytelling, documentary for youth and humanitarian-focused initiatives, and creative work for multinational brands. The innovative filming techniques developed in the production studio he co-founded have garnered strong worldwide popularity, with over half a billion views online.

Sozo Creative believes in the role of artists as thought partners and catalysts for innovation. With art and technology, social impact and the immersive arts as their three main creative axes, Sozo’s global portfolio spans the spectrum of cinema, digital content, educational residences, live performances and responsive activations. to the site. Founded and led by women, Sozo’s team of world-class artists and producers partner with brands, artistic institutions, creative agencies and civic entities, building artistic and cultural bridges through daring and changing projects, to invoke a dynamic, confident and compassionate society. . For more information visit sozoartists.com.

Call to action

As an essential part of the project, the organizers recommend that the public support the Justice for Greenwood Foundation (justiceforgreenwood.org), a network of activists, lawyers, volunteers, experts and descendants of the 1921 Tulsa race massacre, seeking accountability, financial compensation, publication and better speaking the truth about the facts and legacy of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre.

The UMass Fine Arts Center is supported by the New England Foundation for the Arts through the New England Arts Resilience Fund, which is part of the United States Regional Arts Resilience Fund, an initiative of the United States regional arts organizations and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, with major federal CARES funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.

About Hector Hedgepeth

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