Reflections of '#SayHerName: An Evening of Arts & Action'
On March 28th, 2017 at Westwood, California’s Hammer Museum a special performance of spoken word, song and movement entitled #SayHerName: An Evening of Arts and Action, curated by Abby Dobson, honored Black women and girls victimized by police brutality, featuring family members of victims, celebrated artists, civil rights scholars and social justice advocates.
After performance: Justice for our sisters, daughters, mothers and loved ones up above
Hosted by African American Policy Forum, this special evening was part of the third annual #HerDreamDeferred, a weeklong series focusing on the status of Black women and girls by offering analysis and solutions to social injustice, organized by leading critical race theorist Kimberlé Crenshaw, a Columbia and UCLA law professor.
"Black women and girls have continually been on the front lines of progressive change movements, using their voices and stories to mobilize intersectional coalitions to dismantle oppressive systems". In partnership with Hammer Museum, 2017’s series notably honored both U.N.'s International Decade for People of African Descent and Women's History Month. Please note: U.S. elected officials united in 2015 to make a declaration honoring the last week of March as Black Women’s History Week, also when Her Dream Deferred takes place
Photo: Professor Kimberlé Crenshaw during ACT 1: LIFE, encouraging us all to Say Her Name, too!
Professor Crenshaw, who founded African American Policy Forum (AAPF) twenty years ago (20th Anniversary Gala, June 10-17, NYC: info), is known for introducing and developing intersectional theory: "the study of how overlapping or intersecting social identities, particularly minority identities, relate to systems and structures of oppression, domination, or discrimination"
Curator Abby Dobson (right) performed with a voice of an angel! She's the AAPF Artist-in-Residence, an independent scholar and her vocal talents, which include R&B/Soul, jazz, classic pop, gospel and folk. Her debut CD "Sleeping Beauty: You Are the One You Have Been Waiting On” was released in 2010.
Post-event: Ashley Love with Maria Moore, left, sister of Kayla Moore, and Rhanda Dormeus, right, mother of Korryn Gaines.
Kayla Moore was a Black trans woman killed by Berkeley police on Feb. 13, 2013 inside her own home while making dinner for housemates. BPD 'accidentally' used a warrant for the wrong person to unlawfully gain entry and when Kayla tried to correct their negligence by phoning support she was stopped, brutally detained, received a dehumanizing transphobic comment from officer and eventually died in custody. The Moore family is pursuing #Justice4KaylaMoore
Korryn Gaines, only 23, was killed by Baltimore police on Aug. 1, 2016, also inside her own home, in what was an undoubtedly an execution. Her five year old son was also shot, but survived. Prior to the state sanctioned home invasion Gaines was preparing legal action against BPD misconduct, so for a swat team to storm in, citing a mere 'traffic ticket', and suspiciously terminate the Facebook live feed providing transparency, has many perceiving this as an assassination and silencing.
Photo: Frances Garrett (right) uplifts daughter Michelle Cusseaux. After being diagnosed with HIV in 92, Frances Garrett rose to be a notable health advocate, founding the African American Hispanic Health Education Resource Center. Tragedy struck in Aug. 2014 when Frances' eldest daughter Michelle Cusseaux was killed at close range by a Phoenix police officer who had been called to escort her to a mental health facility. Frances marched her daughter's casket through city's downtown. Her continued efforts led to reform, with Phoenix creating mental health advisory board and adding police crisis intervention team
Vocalist, professor and poet Gina Loring's (left) spoken word blessed Act I, II and III, performing Walking Prayer, Passing and The Revolution. Gina was featured on two seasons on HBO's Def Poetry and was a winner of Queen Latifah's CoverGirl Persona Contest for female lyricists.
Spoken word activist and unapologetically Black artist Kamil Oshundara's (right) performance raised the roof. Kamil is an Isa (priestess) of Shango in her indigenous tradition, Yoruba.
The talented Tina Meeks (left) sings "Me and You Against the World" during ACT 1: LIFE in front of screen collage showing victims
Cherrell Brown (right), AAPF Community Engagement Director, participates in event. She's also a social justice educator with Sadie Nash Leadership Project
On Dec.12-12 an off duty Houston sheriff and supposed "minister" Louis Campbell suspected 27 yr old Shelly Frey of shoplifting at Walmart. Despite her being unarmed, he shot and killed this non-threatening mother of two young children - both of which sat mere inches away from the shooting in the back seat. And, as if one could sink any lower, rather than Campbell (or any of the other "public servants") securing Shelly life saving medical treatment they chose to have her remain in the car for eight dehumanizing hours to succumb to her wounds. Campbell and his accomplices should be held accountable. A woman is dead, two children are traumatized and motherless, and Shelly's mother, Sharon Wilkerson, should have never had to endure the pain of burying her beloved daughter.
(Right) Following performance, Kimberlé Crenshaw and Kamil Oshundara are congratulated by artists Matt McGorry and Kendrick Sampson, both actors on Shonda Rhimes’ show How To Get Away With Murder.
Recording artist Nailah Porter (left), a self-described 'global citizen committed to joy', beautifully sang "Strange Fruit" during ACT 11: LOSS
(Photo right) Radio host Laura Flanders, left, hosted event's Talk Back portion and photographer Paula Allen, right, helped document evening's special moments
Actress Qualiema Green, left, and activist Cherrell Brown
Actress Kelly McCreary (right) reads during ACT III: Justice, who was active in New York theatre, appearing on Broadway, before starring in Grey's Anatomy. She serves on the board of Equal Justice Society, founded by renowned civil rights attorney Eva Paterson.
Black Lives Matter co-founder and artist Patrisse Cullors leads audience in Assata Shakur closing chant: "It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love each other and support each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains."
(Left) Following evenings three act performance was Talk Back, a panel featuring the family members of Black women victimized by police brutality speaking about their experiences and loved ones. Panelists included (left to right) Vicki Mcadory, Auntie-Momma to India Beatty, Rhanda Dormeus, Mother of Korryn Gaines' and Maria Moore, Sister of Kayla Moore. Hosted by Laura Flanders. Vicki McaDory emailed us the following, “On March 19, 2016, my niece, who I helped raised, and loved as a daughter, was murdered in cold blood by Norfolk Virginia Police. India Beaty was 25. Her death was a result of FIVE bullets entering her body from her rear and side body. She never even saw who her assassins were. Yet she so called posed a threat to the cowards holding a license and a desire to take an innocent life. Please, anyone who can explain the justice in this...you have my full attention”
Actress LisaGay Hamilton (left) reads Deborah Danner's letter during ACT II: LOSS
L.A. based poet Douglas Kearney (right), who teaches African American studies at CalArts, read "The Black Woman's Tear Monger"
Actress Qualiema Green (right) reads during performance. She grew up in Oakland and is the Founder and Exec. Director of Behind The Masquerade LLC, an arts-education, self-development mentorship program for vulnerable youth.
Sisters Silently Slain ~ Daughters Devastatingly Departed
Roses Reciting Resilience ~ Mothers Moving Mountains
Sacred Souls Surviving Sorrow ~ Rising Revolution Resists
In a letter inside the program’s pamphlet, curator Abby Dobson uplifted the following quote by one of reigning Queen Artivists herself, Nina Simone: “An artist’s duty, as far as I’m concerned, is to reflect the times. I think that is true of painters, sculptors, poets, musicians. As far as I’m concerned, it’s their choice, but I CHOOSE to reflect the times and situations in which I find myself. That, to me, is my duty. And at this crucial time in our lives, when everything is so desperate, when everyday is a matter of survival, I don’t think you can help but be involved. Young people, black and white, know this. That’s why they’re so involved in politics. We will shape and mold this country or it will not be molded and shaped at all anymore. So I don’t think you have a choice. How can you be an artist and NOT reflect the times? That to me is the definition of an artist”
(L-R) Alicia Garza, Opal Tometi and Patrisse Cullors, #BlackLivesMatter co-founders
2013 ~ #BlackLivesMatter was created, calling media attention to anti-Black racist police violence and organizing for the betterment of Black people’s lives, and was founded by three progressive Black women named Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi, all of whom already individually held years of leadership experience in community building and racial social justice advocacy.
ALL Black Lives Matter, including women
Photo: 9-27-14, Wash. D.C. - Black Trans* Women’s Lives Matter vigil outside Congressional Black Caucus conference (Washington Blade)
2014 ~ The Black community’s (as a whole) continued inaction against the terror targeting Black trans* women obligated Black trans* feminists to publically note such trivialization, consistently declaring ALL Black lives matter, not just some. The common standard of many in Black spaces, media outlets and civil rights groups, including activists and elected officials (and of all races) ignoring or deprioritizing the crisis of Black women and girls of transsexual history or of transgender experience being victimized by state, police, male, and domestic violence led Black trans* women to respond with Black Trans* Women’s Lives Matter (BTWLM), a resistance, pro-unity and accountability campaign. BTWLM launched efforts on September 27th, 2014 by holding a vigil to honor and uplift Black and Latina trans* women killed by state and male violence, held outside the Congressional Black Caucus Conference in Washington, D.C.
Local and national trans leaders, community members, feminists, LGB allies, government agencies and social justice groups attended or endorsed vigil, inspiring supportive media coverage, needed dialogue and more trans-inclusive Black community building. (Prior to launch, BTWLM contacted BLM’s communication team for solidarity, receiving both their blessing and official promotion of vigil to BLM's followers.)
SHOUT: Black women and girls matter!
Union Square, NYC #SayHerName launch and vigil, 5-20-15
2015 ~ AAPF launched the #SayHerName campaign (which quickly blossomed into a full on Say Her Name movement) on May, 20th, 2015 in New York City’s Union Square with the historical convening of family members of Black women killed by police in cities all over the country united together in one place for the first time in a moving vigil held to uplift their loved ones’ stories.
The family members of Kayla Moore, Rekia Boyd, Miriam Carey, Alberta Spruill, Shantel Davis, Shelley Frey, Kyam Livingston, Michelle Cusseaux, and Tanisha Anderson were present and lovingly supported by hundreds of attendees. The media got the memo loud and clear: Black Women Matter, too, and an influx of media and visibility on the issue manifested.
In addition to the online campaign and vigil, AAPF and the Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies at Columbia Law School issued a brief entitled “Say Her Name: Resisting Police Brutality Against Black Women”, by Kimberle Crenshaw and Andrea Ritchie, with Rachel Anspach, Rachel Gilmer and Luke Harris.
From document: "Say Her Name documents stories of Black women who have been killed by police, shining a spotlight on forms of police brutality often experienced disproportionately by women of color... Say Her Name provides some analytical frames for understanding their experiences and broadens dominant conceptions of who experiences state violence and what it looks like. The brief concludes with recommendations for engaging communities in conversation and advocacy around Black women’s experiences of police violence, considering race and gender in policy initiatives to combat state violence, and adopting policies to end sexual abuse and harassment by police officers."
Access Say Her Name BRIEF (and social media guide) HERE
|Photo from Rekia Boyd vigil at Union Square, NYC|
The family of Miriam Carey (sister Valarie Carey (center), niece (left), and cousins) on October 3rd, 2016, in front of the Capitol on the 3rd anniversary of the Miriam's passing - an unarmed Black woman killed for making U-turn by Capitol police with her baby in the back seat. The family held a butterfly release to uplift Miriam's story.
Janet Mock (left) backstage @ Women's March on Washington, 1-20-17
Last month's candlelight vigil for Chyna Gibson at Louis Armstrong Park, New Orleans
#SayHerName 5-20-15 vigil images photographed by Mia Fermindoza#SayHerName: An Evening of Arts & Action photos by Ashley Love
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