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College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Lamont School of Music

The Spirituals Project Choir

Outreach, Alumni & Summer Academy

Spirituals Project Activism

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 The Spirituals Project Activism

For the last several years, The Spirituals Project has envisioned core facets of its multidimensional mission through the prism of "R E A P," an acronym that is shorthand for the four pillars of Research, Education, Activism, and Performance. The research, education and performance pillars are obvious and necessary to the mission, but The Spirituals Project has also felt the need to underscore the importance of activism. Activism is deeply connected to the history of the spirituals, beginning with the use of the spirituals as tools for secret communication between enslaved women and men successfully escaping from bondage through the support of The Underground Railroad, and continuing through the singing of spirituals revived as freedom songs during the Civil Rights Movement of the mid-twentieth century.

The ongoing work to establish a genuinely democratic and inclusive American society remains vitally necessary in the twenty-first century, where the need to overcome the stubbornly persistent impact of racial injustice is intertwined with other arenas of injustice that victimize many communities in American society. The Spirituals Project has been engaged in conversations with other organizations locally and nationally in an effort to develop newly creative ways of employing spirituals and other forms of communal singing to maximize the effectiveness of social change efforts.

The "No Enemies" initiative, developed in collaboration with the nationally prominent Hip-Hop ensemble Flobots, is one of the promising projects that has emerged from these conversations. This is an experiment that involves the infusion of principles of non-violent resistance through song into different social actions locally and regionally. A creative mash-up of spirituals and other communal songs is developed and rehearsed by diverse movement activists, who then bring their infectious singing into the center of a variety of specific non-violent actions. As this experiment continues and is evaluated for its effectiveness, The Spirituals Project is also exploring other ways of preserving and revitalizing the legacy of the spirituals as tools in the ongoing struggle for meaningful social change.

 Video Highlights

  The Spirituals Project at Martin Luther King Marade
The Spirituals Project at the Martin Luther King Marade

  No Enemies: Call & Response
No Enemies: Call & Response

  Dr. Arthur Jones Martin Luther King Peace Awards Video
Dr. Arthur Jones Martin Luther King Peace Awards Video

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