SummerStage Anywhere will hold two virtual programs this spring, honoring Haitian Flag Day, the 100th anniversary of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, and the year anniversary of the murder of George Floyd.
On Thursday May 20th, SummerStage will present Haitian Flag Day featuring Gabel and Nancy St. Leger Dance Company at 8PM ET. SummerStage is partnering with the Rhythm Foundation to live-stream a concert directly from the newly renovated North Beach Bandshell in Miami Beach.
The event will feature Haitian konpa group Gabel, who has been awarded countless awards and accolades within the Haitian Music Industry. They will be joined by Nancy St Leger Dance Company, a Haitian folkloric six-member dance company dedicated to the preservation of authentic Haitian Folklore dance.
On Tuesday, May 25 at 8PM ET, SummerStage will present the national premiere of the short film They Still Want To Kill Us. The aria by composer and activist Daniel Bernard Roumain (DBR), performed by mezzo-soprano J’Nai Bridges and directed by filmmaker Yoram Savion, will mark the 100th anniversary of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre.
The presentation is presented in conjunction with a collective of arts organizations from around the country and speaks truth to what transpired in 1921 at the Tulsa Race Massacre, an atrocity all but deleted from history until recently. Occurring 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 surrounding residential area, referred to as “Black Wall Street,” was burned to the ground. The tragedy remains one of the worst incidents of racial violence in U.S. history, and, for a period, remained one of the least known. Despite the fact hundreds of people were killed and thousands more left homeless, news reports were largely suppressed.
They Still Want to Kill Us also commemorates the one year anniversary of the murder of George Floyd, providing a commentary on progress this last century on the issue of race and America’s treatment of Black life. The aria is a part of a larger pocket opera of the same name currently being developed by DBR and slated to premiere in the 21-22 season.
The program will include the premiere of the piece by Savion, a discussion with DBR and Bridges, moderated by Jamilla Deria and a statement by Damario Solomon-Simmons of the Justice for Greenwood Foundation.
We are honored to continue SummerStage’s legacy as a presenter of through-provoking programming that uplifts BIPOC communities and makes visible art that is reflective of histories untold. At this moment of tremendous trauma and hope for change, work like Roumain’s is critical.Erika Elliott, SummerStage Anywhere Executive Artistic Director
They Still Want to Kill Us was filmed in May 2021 in New York City’s Sultan Room and Central Park’s historic Seneca Village site. A 19th-century settlement mostly populated by the largest number of African American landowners in New York before the Civil War, the site was torn down to help make way for Central Park. 225 residents (two-thirds Black and one-third Irish) lost 50 homes, three churches, and a school of African American children. Through archival image references and evocative visual narrative, we connect the past and the present, highlighting a pattern of hidden and historically ignored state violence and the forcible displacement of African American landowning communities across the nation.
DBR’s acclaimed work as a composer, performer, educator, and activist spans more than two decades, and he has been commissioned by venerable artists and institutions worldwide. “About as omnivorous as a contemporary artist gets” (New York Times), DBR is perhaps the only composer whose collaborations span Philip Glass, Bill T. Jones, Savion Glover, and Lady Gaga. He most recently scored the film Ailey (d. Jamila Wignot), which premiered at Sundance Film Festival in 2021.
What happened to American citizens on May 31, 1921 in Tulsa, Oklahoma was a massacre by white people perpetrated upon Black people. A toxic mix of misinformation, bigotry, ignorance, and white rage ignited a race war that left hundreds dead, a community destroyed, and a nation still struggling for its identity. It seems that some white people still want to kill us (Black people), and the murder of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd and so many others is evidence of this bloodlust sown deep within the American psyche. What are the words and methods of The New Racism? Each day we bear witness to 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.Daniel Bernard Roumain
American mezzo-soprano J’Nai Bridges, known for her “rich, dark, exciting sound” (Opera News) is quickly becoming one of the most sought-after talents of her generation, gracing the world’s top stages in repertoire ranging from traditional favorites to world premieres to spirituals and standards.
Tune in on May 20 for Haitian Flag Day celebration. They Still Want to Kill Us will stream for free at SummerStageAnywhere.org until July 31.