Discussion to consider the role of #BlackLivesMatter and the arts


What is the role of the arts in advancing #BlackLivesMatter?

That will be discussed by artists from across the country during the #BlackLivesMatter Arts in the Performing Arts webinar from 12:30-2 p.m. Feb. 10, presented by the National Center for Institutional Diversity.

Viewers may register for the free Zoom webinar at myumi.ch/5JNmq.

Featured artists in the fields of dance, music, theater and visual art will discuss their motivations for the work, target audiences and the potential of the role of their work in police training.

Initially a hashtag on social media, but now a broader social justice movement, #BlackLivesMatter emerged as a response to the 2013 acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Black 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

Event organizers said the global network is expansive, and the mission is to eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes, affirming the lives of Black queer and trans people, as well as Black peoples’ humanity.

Artists during the webinar will discuss Blackness as a creative encumbrance and the role of their work in helping humanity to envision and manifest an antiracist future. It will be facilitated by Antonio C. Cuyler, professor of music in the School of Music, Theatre & Dance, and feature artists including:

  • ​​Lawrence M. Jackson, associate professor in the College of Visual and Performing Arts at George Mason University.
  • Alysia Lee, president of the Baltimore Children & Youth Fund, and founder and artistic director of Sister Cities Girlchoir.
  • Joshua McFadden, assistant professor in the School of Photographic Arts and Sciences College of Art and Design at Rochester Institute of Technology.
  • Ayvaunn Penn, assistant professor of theatre in the College of Fine Arts at Texas Christian University.
  • Joel Thompson, composer, pianist, conductor and educator.

The conversation will also reference the artists’ work, which includes pieces and performances of “Say Her Name” (Lee); “Say Her Name, Too” (Jackson); “Ten Years of Grief, Black Lives Matter” (McFadden); “For Bo” (Penn); and “Seven Last Words of the Unarmed” (Thompson).


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