Tuesday, May 25, 2021
8:00 pm - 9:00 pm
On May 25, 2021, a group of arts institutions across the nation will premiere the short film “They Still Want To Kill Us,” an aria by composer and activist Daniel Bernard Roumain (DBR), performed by mezzo-soprano J’Nai Bridges, and directed by filmmaker Yoram Savion, to mark the 100th anniversary of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre as well as the one year anniversary of George Floyd’s murder. It speaks truth to what transpired in 1921 at the Tulsa Race Massacre, an atrocity all but deleted from history until recently.
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.
During the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, which occurred 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 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.
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.
This work of social justice and global change is produced by Rika Iino and Ichun Yeh of Sozo Creative with support from Phillips Theological Seminary in Tulsa, OK, and is commissioned by the Apollo Theater, Opera Philadelphia, the Fine Arts Center at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Capital One City Parks Foundation SummerStage Anywhere, Joe’s Pub, Stanford Live, University Musical Society at the University of Michigan, Zoellner Arts Center at Lehigh University, The Arts Center at NYU Abu Dhabi, Creative Alliance, Bill Bragin and Washington Performing Arts with support from National Sawdust and the Lotus Education and Arts Foundation, distributed by ActiveCultures, Esty Dinur, globalFEST, ¡Globalquerque! and HotHouse.
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.
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.
Yoram Savion is a filmmaker, writer, and multimedia artist. His pan-genre, award- winning onscreen work spans movement-based documentation, narrative, documentary for youth- and humanitarian-centric initiatives, and creative work for multinational brands. The innovative filming techniques developed in the production studio he co- founded has drawn a strong global following, with more than a half billion views online.
Sozo Creative believes in the role of artists as thought partners and catalysts for innovation. With art and technology, social impact and immersive arts as their three core creative tracks, Sozo’s global portfolio spans the spectrum of film, digital content, educational residencies, live performances, and site-reactive activations. Founded and led by women, Sozo’s team of world class artists and producers partner with brands, arts institutions, creative agencies and civic entities, building artistic and cultural bridges through bold, perspective-changing projects, to invoke a vibrant, trusting, and compassionate society. For more information, visit sozoartists.com.
As an essential part of the project, we refer the public to support the Justice for Greenwood Foundation, a network of activists, attorneys, volunteers, experts, and descendants of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre seeking accountability, financial compensation, publication and greater truth-telling around the facts and legacy of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre.