Friday, December 19, 2014

From the Stage to the Streets: Chicago Artists and Activists Respond to “We Must Breathe”

From Howlround by Isaac Gomez who organized the event at Victory Gardens

"On December 18, more than 350 Chicago artists and community members (and another 1,120 Livestreaming from six different countries) gathered at Victory Gardens Theater to bear witness and respond to performance pieces created in the wake of the national outcry stemming from the deaths and verdicts of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, and countless others.
The mere fact that every single person stood in the theatre to have this dialogue following the performance is a testament to the space they collectively crafted for solidarity, open-mindedness, and respect that is vacant for several communities. So much so, that towards the end of the dialogue, several members from Chicago Artists Against Injustice stood up from their seats and began to sing:

“I can hear my brother crying, ‘I can’t breathe.’

So now I’m in the struggle singing ‘I can’t leave.’

Calling out the violence of these racist police

And we ain’t gonna stop till our people are free.”

It was in this moment that the artistry transformed into activism. Patrons were handed fliers by several members of the group and were encouraged to sing alongside them. And as a collective, they poured onto the mainstage to create an altar made of toys to honor the black lives lost and to empower the black youth of our communities.

Several members encouraged attendees to join them in an act of civil disobedience. Some stood behind, though many joined them in the streets outside Victory Gardens. From the artistic, to the dialogue, to the die-in that took place in one of the busiest intersections in Chicago, scholars, activists, and artists alike will have many names for what took place at Victory Gardens that night.
Read more here...


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