Karamu House ready to empower people to take a stand; reveals new program

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CLEVELAND (WJW) — Cleveland’s Karamu House is speaking out about the recent deaths of black Americans at the hands of police.

Recognized as the oldest African American performing arts institute in the country they expressed their outrage, acknowledging that the fight to end racism continues.

The arts institution says they are ready to affect real change and empower people to take a stand.
As part of that initiative, they plan to debut a program featuring Cleveland artists and multiple art forms. It will be televised, aired on streaming platforms and social media.


“The arts and artists have always been agents in terms of making change in terms of challenging issues. So sometimes you can use that medium to begin to see yourself, see the experience and then it can trigger the next steps that one needs to take,” said Karamu’s President and CEO Tony F. Sias. They hope this will educate, heal, and activate our communities.


The program, called “Freedom on Juneteenth,” commemorating the ending of slavery in the U.S. will debut on June nineteenth.

There will also be a live panel and conversation.

Additional details about Karamu House’s all-access, virtual Juneteenth event will be available on its website and social media platforms.

Read their full statement below:

One hundred five years ago in Cleveland, Ohio, Karamu House began as the Playhouse Settlement — a safe place that provided community resources, connected and empowered families, and allowed people to reach their highest potential through the vehicle of arts experiences. 
Today, Karamu stands strong as a convening place for all people and a voice that continues to amplify, celebrate, and honor the African American experience. The recent murders of Black, American citizens at the hands of law enforcement, sworn to protect and serve, reflects a new low in the calamitous state of the Black experience in America. 
We should all be outraged. 
America, the beneficiary of hundreds of years of stolen Black labor, from the plantation cotton fields to the prison industrial complex, has failed its Black citizens. America increasingly demonstrates its devaluation of black and brown bodies and illuminates the fact that we aren’t safe in the streets, in our cars, or even at home in our own beds. 
This is not okay. We are not okay. 
Karamu House acknowledges that the fight to end racism continues. The fight to dismantle the institution of white supremacy continues. We stand strong as a cultural arts institution ready to call out apathy, ready to call out trite demonstrations disguised as all-ism, ready to affect real change and empower the people to take the same just stand. 
On Juneteenth, Friday, June 19, 2020, the commemoration of the ending of slavery in the U.S., Karamu House will debut “Freedom on Juneteenth,” a program to feature musicians and vocalists, spoken word artists, and dancers, as they too, respond to the recent murders of Black Americans through their respective art forms.
The program, to air at 7 PM EST/4 PM PST on local television stations, various streaming platforms, and social media, will also include live dialogue and conversation, with accessible resources in order to create change within our communities. 
The “Freedom on Juneteenth” program is designed to celebrate, educate, heal,
and activate our communities. Audiences will be invited and encouraged to utilize the shared resources and to transform anger, disgust, and frustration into decisive ballot responses in November, especially within local elections. 
Karamu House seeks to help educate all people on the political process and remind America that lawmakers serve at the pleasure of the people. As Tony F. Sias, President & CEO, says, “We will no longer be pacified by well-wishes and hopes for justice. We are the change we have been waiting on. The question is: what will we do differently this time, and how will you activate your power
.”

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