Sunday, May 31, 2020

NAACP: This is America

May 31, 2020

“It is certain, in any case, that ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have.” - James Baldwin


Our oppression has reached its boiling point.

The uprisings we’re witnessing in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Minneapolis, New York, Oakland, Washington D.C. and many other cities across the U.S. are a direct consequence of the racism, bigotry, violence, and subjugation against Black people that has festered in this country for far too long. The murder of George Floyd, and the subsequent lack of accountability by the police, has set into motion what can only be described as a moment of reckoning for our nation’s conscience.

How we become the land of the free depends largely on what happens next.

As we continue to advocate in memory of George Floyd, now is the time to ask ourselves, what does justice look like? Yes, we want all the officers involved to be immediately arrested, tried for murder, and convicted. But justice for George Floyd also means bringing an end to the criminalization of Black skin. It means holding police departments accountable for their role in terrorizing our communities for years. It must mean a complete and thorough policy reset so that no Black person is ever put on trial for their own murder as we saw in the case of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, and Michael Brown.

To ensure our survival as free Black people in this country two things need to happen. First, what has now become clear to the world, is the ongoing practice of police brutality, specifically against the Black community, is not only a civil rights issue but also a human rights issue. The NAACP is calling on the United Nations to step up and classify the mistreatment of Black people in the U.S. by the police as a human rights violation, aggressively call out the U.S. government in the process, and impose sanctions if necessary.

Secondly, we need sweeping police reform–federal legislation mandating a zero-tolerance approach in penalizing and/or prosecuting police officers who kill unarmed, non-violent, and non-resisting individuals in an arrest. 

This federal legislation must include the following principles:
  • A ban on the use of knee holds and choke holds as an acceptable practice for police officers.
  • The Use of Force Continuum for any police department in the country must ensure that there are at least 6 levels of steps, with clear rules on escalation.
  • Each State’s Open Records Act must ensure officer misconduct information and disciplinary histories are not shielded from the public.
  • Recertification credentials may be denied for police officers if determined that their use of deadly force was unwarranted by federal guidelines.
  • Implementation of Citizen’s Review Boards in municipalities to hold police departments accountable and build public confidence.
Take Action

Friend, the anger and frustration we feel at this moment must be channeled into working towards a better future for us and for future generations to come. For too long we have marched, we have protested, and we have mourned our lost ones as the world and our allies watched on.

It’s time to stop watching and take action.

In Solidarity,
Derrick Johnson
President and CEO

Reminder: NOBLE Virtual Blessing of the Badge - June 1st

Join us Monday, June 1st at 9:00pm ET/ 6:00pm PT as NOBLE National Chaplain Reverend Cassandra Bledsoe and Imam Talib Shareef lead us in prayers for law enforcement officers and first responders, the health of our country during the COVID-19 pandemic, and healing for our communities following the death of George Floyd.

This month we will be joined by Bishop Ronald White of the International Conference of Police Chaplains.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

NOBLE statement on George Floyd death arrest and policies for Law Enforcement Agencies

NOBLE Responds to the Arrest in the George Floyd Death and Encourages Law Enforcement Agencies to Adopt Effective Operating Policies and Training to Build Community Trust

Alexandria, VA. - May 30, 2020 - "Justice must be fair. Justice must be transparent. Justice must be equal. George Floyd deserves justice," said NOBLE National President Cerelyn J. Davis in response to Hennepin County District Attorney Mike Freeman's announcement of the arrest and charging the arresting officer responsible for the death of George Floyd. "NOBLE believes in justice by action. The community and the officers involved deserve their day in court." 

NOBLE supports a full and thorough investigatory process to include charging all the people responsible for the death of Mr. Floyd. Justice must be served. The actions of all four officers involved in the incident are clear violations of the policing practices that NOBLE advocates as national standards. NOBLE encourages all law enforcement leaders to develop and implement 21st century policing practices for their agencies including:
  1. Mandatory de-escalation training for all officers.
  2. Prohibition of all physical restraint maneuvers on or above the neck.
  3. Requiring officers to render medical aid to all people.
  4. Requiring that officers intervene where physical force is being applied to either stop or attempt to stop another officer when force is being inappropriately applied or is no longer required.
These operating principles and others that NOBLE supports must be implemented, trained, and enforced throughout the agency. These practices have been proven effective, increase public trust, improve public safety, and protect officers and the community. The margin of error is literally life or death and we emphasize the sanctity of life.

NOBLE has and will continue to work with law enforcement and community leaders to improve the partnerships between law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve.


About the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives
Since 1976, The National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE) has served as the conscience of law enforcement by being committed to justice by action. NOBLE represents over 3,000 members internationally, who are primarily African American chief executive officers of law enforcement agencies at federal, state, county and municipal levels, other law enforcement administrators, and criminal justice practitioners. For more information, visit

African-American New York Philharmonic Clarinetist Shares Anguished "America the Beautiful" Musical Protest over the Death of George Floyd


NEW YORK - Clarinetist Anthony McGill, the first ever African-American Principal player of the New York Philharmonic, has posted a powerful musical protest video in a demonstration against the death of George Floyd and historic racial injustice. The video has received over 50,000 views in less than two days and is now sparking a movement.

In the 1½ minute video, Mr. McGill performs his own arrangement of America the Beautiful, with a melody that wavers between optimism and anguish and concludes with a final chord that doesn't resolve. At the end, Mr. McGill falls to both knees with his arms behind his back. He accompanied the video with a personal and passionate post (facebook link above, text version available here) encouraging people to #TakeTwoKnees in support of the struggle for justice and decency.

Opera singer Lawrence Brownlee, flutist Demarre McGill, composer and flutist Allison Loggins-Hill, trombonist Weston Sprott, dancer Alicia Graf Mack, and trumpeter Billy Hunter are just some of the artists who have already posted videos in response.

Lara Downes performs "I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free" (3:11)

Lara Downes

Lara Downes writes:

From my house to yours...
I hope you’re safe and well, taking care of yourselves and each other. I miss you all.
This has been a terrible week in a series of terrible weeks. I know we're all struggling amidst so much hurt and suffering. I'm just holding on to good and meaningful work, trying to help where I can, and to use this as a time to reflect, reimagine and rebuild.

Today, NPR Music is sharing a Tiny Desk Concert that I filmed at home during quarantine, featuring some music from my new album Some Of These Days

During this sad time, I admit to feeling sometimes helpless. But I won't be hopeless. This music - freedom songs and Spirituals  - testifies to our human capacity for hope, action, and survival against all odds. NPR's Ann Powers describes the album this way: This lyrical, evocative set un-starches the musical artifacts of African-American uplift. The pianist approaches spirituals, hymns and legacy pieces with a passion grounded in the knowledge that history is personal: each interpretation deeply reckons with what made her.”  (NPR's Top Albums of April)

>From the album booklet, artwork by 7th grade student Emily Juarez from Watts, Los Angeles:

I believe with all my heart that Emily and her generation will bring our world to a better place. This summer, with the support of the Sphinx Organization, and in partnership with University of California ArtsBridge, I'm expanding My Promise Project as a national online platform for young people to harness their potential and their creativity as they reimagine the future and prepare to emerge as its leaders.

Free summer workshops begin June 22 for students age 12-18. Information / Signups HERE

And next week, I'm launching a new series called THE BEDTIME SESSIONS. Every Friday, starting June 5, I'll be releasing a lullaby to soothe you into sleep and peaceful dreams. I know we’re all dealing with stress and trauma, and I hope that this eclectic collection of lovely, intimate pieces will help you rest. Sign up HERE to get a new streaming track every Friday. 
I'm just thinking about gratitude and responsibility. I'm so grateful for my health, my family, the love that surrounds and supports me, and for the music that even now, in this time of isolation and division, keeps us connected. And I think that we all have a responsibility to love each other, to do our own version of service, to raise our voices for what's right, and above all to hold on to our hope. I do believe that together we shall overcome, that we can emerge from this darkness brighter and better, stronger and wiser, some of these days...
I'm sending you all my love-

6/1/20 The Dream Unfinished & Lincoln Center honor #EssentialWorkers of Color


Will you Stay On It?

Learn more about our mission at The Dream Unfinished.

Presented by Lincoln Center, The Dream Unfinished will premiere a video performance of Stay On It by Julius Eastman (1940-1990), a composer whose music explored his identities as a gay man and as a Black-American. Stay On It is dedicated to blue-collar essential workers such as grocery employees, public transit operators, custodians, and other professions overwhelmingly occupied by people of color. This is the first classical music tribute to essential workers of color in the United States.

Join us for the premiere on 6/1/20

In collaboration with 
Castle of Our Skins
Challenge the Stats
Kyle Marshall Choreography

Lead support for Stay On It is provided by Lincoln Center. Additional funding for Stay On It is provided by Sigrid Rausing Trust and The Narrative, Arts and Culture program at Race Forward. The Perseverance of André Watts: Putting physical disability on view in the highly competitive arena of classical music takes grit

Credit...Hiroyuki Ito/Getty Images

The New York Times

Toward the end of 2019, the classical pianist André Watts was facing what seemed to be an insurmountable impediment. The last time he had encountered nerve damage in his left hand, back in 2004, an operation on a herniated disk led to rapid recovery. But this time the injury was not to the nerve sheath but to the nerve fiber, and after vertebra surgery, the prognosis was not good. Regeneration would take time; there was no guarantee that it would enable him to fully use his all-important left thumb. He canceled quite a few concerts, but would he have to relinquish his performance career altogether?

  • There was no need to concertize in order to boost his reputation. Half a century of performances and recordings had already earned him the National Medal of Arts as well as many other honorary prizes and degrees. Innumerable appearances with virtually every major orchestra here and overseas had brought raves by audiences and reviewers over his “personal magic” and the “opulence” of his sound.

  • André knew that his teaching would also survive the cancellation of performances. I use his first name because after he joined the music faculty at my school, we bonded as cancer patients and then celebrated when his prostate cancer went into remission in 2017. At the start of this year, I marveled at his ingenious plan to meet at least some of his upcoming commitments to appear onstage, despite the immobilized fingers of his left hand.

  • While driving home from school one day, André heard on the radio Maurice Ravel’s “Concerto for the Left Hand in D Major,” which was commissioned by Paul Wittgenstein, an Austrian pianist who had lost his arm in World War I. Could the piece be tackled by the right hand, André wondered as he began working on a transcription? Would the conductors in Detroit and Atlanta, with whom he was scheduled to appear in March, be willing to swap the Ravel for what he had signed up to play, Beethoven’s “Fifth Piano Concerto”?
  • André’s love of performing dates back to the age of 10, when he played his first concert with the Philadelphia Orchestra and guessed that being a concert pianist could become “a grown-up job,” although even then he realized that “‘wanting’ and ‘being’ were not the same thing.”
    And, of course, many of us remember seeing the 16-year-old André performing with Leonard Bernstein on his televised Young People’s Concerts.
    That he continued making beautiful music for decades explains why both Thomas Wilkins, a guest conductor of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, and Robert Spano, the musical director of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, immediately agreed to the proposed Ravel program. André began practicing, while I watched online videos of the piece, wondering how he could retain balance when reaching for notes in the lower range of the keyboard with his right hand. André’s esteemed teacher Leon Fleisher had explored left-hand compositions because of a dysfunctional right hand. But André would be using the traditionally stronger hand on a score composed for the weaker. No extensive right-hand repertoire exists. 
  • Friday, May 29, 2020

    John Malveaux: Among the top American contributors to classical music is George Theophilus Walker, who received the 1996 Pulitzer Prize for LILACS

    Albany Records

    John Malveaux of writes:

    The origin of classical music is Europe but deceased and living American composers have made significant contributions within the art form. Among the top American contributors is Pianist, Educator, and Composer George Theophilus Walker. George Walker received  the 1996 Pulitzer Prize for LILACS. However, with few exceptions, his extensive compositional output has been neglected or relegated to African American Heritage Month. 

    The seldom performances of George Walker's music on concert stages and sparse programming on classical radio stations can not be justified on qualitative standards consistent with composers receiving frequent concert performances and daily radio programming. Please see bio  Also note George Walker lived and composed to age 96 and the bio does not cover his latter years. MusicUNTOLD Audio Library will speak to those significant years in a future blog. Please listen to 1st of three movements - CONCERTO for TROMBONE and ORCHESTRA: 1. Allegro which premiered in 1957

    Thursday, May 28, 2020

    John Malveaux: May is Jewish Heritage Month: I salute Joel Elias Spingarn and the NAACP Spingarn Medal

    John Malveaux of writes:

    I was unaware until 5-27-2020 that May is Jewish Heritage Month As a African American member of Long Beach Chapter of NAACP,  I salute  Joel Elias Spingarn and the NAACP Spingarn Medal See pic of February 21, 2009 US Postal stamp of JR Clifford (Civil Rights Attorney) and Joel Elias Spingarn 

    Wednesday, May 27, 2020


    Red Clay Dance Company (RCDC), a nonprofit dance 
    company that creates and performs a 
    diverse repertoire of Afro-contemporary dance, is 
    stepping up in the fight against the threat of 
    COVID-19 in its community with the Dance 
    Pamoja Challenge, a 12-month project beginning 
    June 1 that focuses on controlling blood pressure, 
    building resilience, and preventing death from 
    COVID-19 among African-American families living 
    on Chicago’s South Side.
    RCDC shifted to providing its program 
    participants with virtual dance classes with 
    the implementation and extension of stay-at-home 
    orders. With the new Dance Pamoja Challenge
    RCDC is working with Dr. Audrey Tanksley of 

    ACCESS Community Health Network and Clinical 
     Pharmacist Jewel Younge of University of Illinois 
    at Chicago College of Pharmacy to target blood 
    pressure management, A1C monitoring, and 
    psychological stress to reduce or eliminate the 
    burden of COVID-19 and the risk of death. 
    With healthcare guidelines recommending 150 
    minutes of exercise a week, RCDC’s dance 
    classes have the potential to preserve and 
    improve blood pressure and blood glucose levels.
    “Red Clay Dance has performed professionally 
    and provided dance instruction for thousands of 
    Chicagoans in our home-base community on the 
    South Side,” said RCDC Founding Artistic 
    Director and CEO Vershawn Sanders-Ward. 
    “Engaging people in exercise can be very 
    challenging, but high-energy and aerobic styles of 
    dance are deeply rooted in the African-American 
    tradition. The motivation to dance is not just 
    practical; there are spiritual, cultural, and 
    psychological components that make dancing 
    central in African-American homes, churches, and 
    social settings. In short, we love to dance 
    pamoja, which means together in Swahili. This 
    project speaks directly to RCDC’s work 
    during the past 11 years to strengthen the 
    resiliency of our communities through dancing 

    Participants in RCDC’s online classes are also 
    eligible to participate in a 12-month 
    observational cohort study. Participants 
    receive a blood pressure monitor to log their 
    numbers and team up to lower and 
    maintain their blood pressure. Dr. Tanksley 
    closes the care continuum loop through 
    protocol-driven monitoring, escalating, and 
    referring participants to testing, or a doctor, 
    when necessary. The program 
    approaches resilience-building through 
    strategies such as counting blessings, 
    creating a resilience inventory to reinforce 
    the supports people need to navigate 
    the pandemic. Dance Pamoja Challenge 
    prizes support the goals of lowering blood 
    pressure, increasing activity, and building 
    resilience. The Resilience Portal provides 
    participants with a group blog to share 
    their expression and learn more about 
    COVID-19 resources, mental wellness 
    exercises, and immune-boosting nutrition.
    “Dance is a great form of exercise 
    to include in anyone’s health management 
    program,” stated Sanders-Ward. “Now, in 
    particular, RCDC is offering an alternative 
    to face-to-face classes, which helps 
    people keep movement in their lives while 
    avoiding the risk of infection.”
    The Dance Pamoja Challenge will 
    culminate in 2021 with an in-person 
    Dance Pamoja Celebration hosted by 
    RCDC and the project partners. This 
    event will celebrate the participants and 
    encourage them to continue their 
    healthy lifestyle journey, as well as 
    potentially attract other individuals in 
    the community seeking to live healthier 
    and more active lives. Participants will have 
    access to free dance classes, healthy 
    snacks, food prep demonstrations, blood 
    pressure screening, and testing.

    For more information about RCDC, 
    Red Clay Dance Company lives to awaken 
    “glocal” change through creating, 
    performing, and teaching dances of 
    the African Diaspora—change that 
    transforms cultural and socioeconomic 
    inequities in our local and global 
    community. Founder Vershawn Sanders-
    Ward conceived the idea of RCDC while 
    on her first trip to Senegal, West Africa, 
    when she became fascinated by the 
    interconnectedness of dance and everyday 
    life. The name Red Clay comes from her 
    childhood memories of playing in red earth 
    during her summers in Mobile, Alabama.
    RCDC is supported by the Alphawood 
    Foundation, the Chicago Community 
    Trust, the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley 
    Foundation, the Field Foundation of Illinois, 
    the Lloyd A. Fry Foundation, the MacArthur 
    Fund for Arts and Culture at the Richard H 
    Driehaus Foundation, the Polk Bros. 
    Foundation, the Springboard Foundation, 
    and the Chicago Department of Cultural 
    Affairs and Special Events.

    Photos by Raymond Jerome Photography.

    National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE) Statement on the Death of George Floyd

    Alexandria, VA. - May 26, 2020 -The African American community, and the nation as a whole, has once again experienced the death of an African American male through an interaction with law enforcement. George Floyd of Minnesota died in police custody after an officer pressed his knee to Mr. Floyd's neck for at least eight minutes during his arrest Monday afternoon. Recorded on a bystander's video, Mr. Floyd is heard repeatedly saying "I can't breathe," reminiscent of the words Eric Garner uttered before his death in 2014 when a police officer put him in a chokehold.

    "My heart breaks to witness yet another senseless and dreadful death at the hands of those called to serve and protect. Every person in our country deserves to be treated as a human being and feel safe in their community. This tragic loss of life calls for immediate action and accountability," said NOBLE National President Cerelyn J. Davis. 

    While this is a profoundly horrific incident, we are encouraged by the judicious investigations being conducted by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The Minneapolis Police Department's swift decision to address the actions of the officers involved and terminate them is a step in the right direction. "We must hold our officers accountable to protect our communities and each other from danger. NOBLE and law enforcement agencies across the country are left to ask, how do we collectively strengthen public trust, when trust in fact has been breached?"

    NOBLE will closely monitor any and all forthcoming information regarding this tragedy, and offers its unwavering prayers to Mr. Floyd's family, and all impacted. Additionally, this event reinforces our role in the significant work ahead of us as we fight for justice and fair judicial outcomes for every community in America.


    About the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives
    Since 1976, The National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE) has served as the conscience of law enforcement by being committed to justice by action. NOBLE represents over 3,000 members internationally, who are primarily African American chief executive officers of law enforcement agencies at federal, state, county and municipal levels, other law enforcement administrators, and criminal justice practitioners. For more information, visit

    Tuesday, May 26, 2020

    Harlem Chamber Players Upcoming Online Programs - June 5, 10 and 14

    Message from the Founder

    I hope you are all staying safe and healthy during these tough times. As you may know already, our production of the Nathaniel Dett oratorio The Ordering of Moses originally scheduled for June 4 will be postponed until the following season. For anyone who bought tickets or were promised tickets through our Indiegogo Campaign or other fundraiser, please know we will honor your tickets for the rescheduled date. However, if you prefer, we will refund your purchase or contribution. Just email us with your request or any questions you have.

    We miss you all very much and hope you will join us for some interactive online programs we having coming up in June.


    Upcoming Online Programs

    Join  us on June 5th for a “Careers in Music Panel.” This panel will feature discussions amongst the leading figures of color in the worlds of orchestral music, music education, music administration, chamber music, and musical theater. The goal of this panel is to expose students and the broader audience to the many different career paths, fields of work, and opportunities in the profession of music. 

    Panelists include Monica Ellis of Imani Winds, Gary Padmore of the New York Philharmonic, Titus Underwood of the Nashville Symphony, Westin Sprott of The Juilliard School, Liz Player of The Harlem Chamber Players, and music director and composer Andrew Sotomayor and will be moderated by our own director of educational programming, Hassan Anderson

    This event is free and recommended for students ages 9 to 21 interested in pursuing a music career. Email us if you are interested in joining.

    Join members of The Harlem Chamber Players in a Watch Party, Talk and Q&A featuring the February 2019 world premiere performance of "Nobody Know," a concert aria based on a text by Herbert Martin, American poet based in Dayton, Ohio. It was commissioned by The Harlem Chamber Players to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the first Africans being brought to America as slaves. The piece depicts a “song from the other cross,” a viewpoint of one of the thieves crucified with Christ on Good Friday, the thief who spoke to Christ.

    After the Watch Party there will be an interactive Talk and Q&A with the composer, librettist and performers. This event is FREE and open to the public.

    "Nobody Know" Concert Aria by Dr. Adolphus Hailstork III
    (Text by Dr. Herbert Woodward Martin)
    Watch Party followed by an interactive Talk and Q&A moderated by Amadi Azikiwe

    Dr. Herbert Woodward Martin, Librettist
    Kenneth Overton, Baritone
    Ashley Horne, Violin
    Amadi Azikiwe, Viola
    Wayne Smith, Cello
    Liz Player, Founder of The Harlem Chamber Players

    Please RSVP by clicking here or on the Eventbrite Tickets icon below.

    The Harlem Chamber Players, in partnership with the Harlem Cultural Collaborative, present host and performer Terrance McKnight, pianist Kyle Walker in performances of Beethoven/Langston Hughes juxtapositions arranged by Terrance McKnight. This event is FREE and open to the public and is part of the Harlem Renaissance 100 Celebration.

    RSVP required, and registration will be open soon.

    Donations of any amount are much appreciated.
    Thank you to all who have supported us in the past.

    You may also donate by check:
    The Harlem Chamber Players, Inc.
    191 Claremont Avenue #25
    New York, NY 10027

    The Harlem Chamber Players 2019 – 2020 Season is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council; in part by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature; in part by a grant from Columbia Community Service; in part by West Harlem Development Corporation via the Tides Foundation; in part by a grant from the Lily Auchincloss Foundation; in part with funding from the Turrell Fund; in part with funding from the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone Development Corporation and administered by LMCC; in part by the Manhattan Community Award Program via Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer; in part by a grant from the New York Community Trust/Charles E. Culpeper Fund; in part by a grant from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation; in part by a grant from J.P. Morgan Securities Charitable Giving Fund; in part by a grant from The M&T Charitable Foundation; and through the generous donations of our supporters and donors.

    UMEZ enhances the economic vitality of all communities in Upper Manhattan through job creation, corporate alliances, strategic investments, and small business assistance. LMCC empowers artists by providing them with networks, resources, and support, to create vibrant, sustainable communities in Manhattan and beyond. UMEZ enhances the economic vitality of all communities in Upper Manhattan through job creation, corporate alliances, strategic investments, and small business assistance. LMCC empowers artists by providing them with networks, resources, and support, to create vibrant, sustainable communities in Manhattan and beyond.

    Thanks also to our partners—the Harlem Cultural Collaborative, The Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine, Goddard Riverside Community Center, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, the Harlem School of the Arts, Harlem One Stop, Broadway Presbyterian Church, St. Mary’s Episcopal Church of Manhattanville, The Forum and Columbia University, Opus 118 Harlem School of Music, Harlem Arts Alliance, Harlem Stage, Composers Now, Talea Ensemble, Harlem Opera Theater, Harry T. Burleigh Society, Opera Noire, Three on 3, Opera Ebony, Chorale Le Chateau, the Newark School of the Arts, Arts High School in Newark,, and the Institute of Music for Children in Elizabeth, NJ.

    Liz Player, Founder, Executive and Artistic Director
    Carl Jackson, Associate Artistic Director and Director of Development
    The Harlem Chamber Players, Inc. | 212-866-1492


    The Harlem Chamber Players | 191 Claremont Avenue #25, New York, NY 10027