Fifty-seven years ago, on July 24, Rochester, NY’s Black community rebelled against dehumanizing discrimination, police brutality, high unemployment, poverty, and other manifestations of systemic racial inequality. Though the dominant community did not frame it that way and still does not til this day, Black citizens of Rochester lived in an Apartheid state. Their townships were redlined neighborhoods which were separate, under resourced, and overpoliced.
July 24, 2021, 21st Century Arts Inc. and Create A Space NOW, will interrogate these same issues in a contemporary conversation informed by its historical context. And Still We Rise: A Long Table Conversation and Installation is presented on the uprising’s anniversary. A few blocks from one of its epicenters on Clarissa Street and a short distance from where last summer, in 2020, Black Lives Matter activists were sprayed with illegal chemical irritants, shot with rubber bullets, arrested for protesting, and menaced with police dogs.
“At a time when powerful forces are attempting to further disenfranchise Black voters, whitewash history, and reframe an attempted coup as something more benign, even patriotic – we must act on behalf of truth and social justice. For ourselves, our ancestors, and future generations,” says Rachel DeGuzman, Executive Director of 21st Century Arts Inc., “It is especially important to provide safe platforms for Black people in our community to speak out. Forums where their voices and perspectives are centered, such as And Still We Rise: A Long Table Conversation/Installation.
Event details for And Still We Rise: A Long Table Conversation and Installation
July 24, 2021 – 2 to 5 pm
The Black House, 215 Tremont Street, Door 3/Floor 3, Rochester, NY 14608
Free and open to the public (Donations to support “a love letter to Brian, Lesley, and Michelle and 21st Century Arts Inc. thankfully accepted)
• Excerpts of “a love letter to Brian, Lesley, and Michelle” – Create A Space Now presents a film by Hettie Barnhill. The 30-minute reel of selected excerpts will be followed by a post-screening chat from the director and choreographer. For more information about the film, go here. http://www.alovelettertoblm.com/
• Montage of photos taken in July 1964 related to the uprising by the Black community in Rochester, NY
• Viewing of the quadriptych “Unfinished Business” created by Shawn Dunwoody
• Photographs by Cocoa Rae of the community comments on the collaborative “Empire Strikes Black” art installation at Rochester’s MLK park – created by Shawn Dunwoody. The city of Rochester has since painted over the comments much of which was community dialogue on Black Lives Matter issues - officially citing an issue with expletives written on the walls.
These provocations will be followed by a Long Table conversation that is started by Black artists, activists, and invited community members. After 30 minutes, members of the audience can join the conversation at the Long Table.
What is a Long Table Conversation?
The Long Table conversation is a performative device that was conceived of by artist and activist Lois Weaver in the early 2000s - inspired by the film “Antonia’s Line” and the desire to host public conversations on difficult subjects. It is an experimental public forum that is all at once a performance, installation, roundtable, discussion, and dinner party designed to facilitate an open dialogue through a gathering of people with similar interests.
In 2017, Rachel DeGuzman, founder/executive director of 21st Century Arts Inc., adapted Weaver’s concept and curates her Long Table to use art/cultural provocations in order to explore issues of intersectional racism and center the creativity, voices, and issues important to marginalized people - especially Black women. She has presented 56 Long Tables since the first – “And, Ain’t I A Woman” in December 2017.
And Still We Rise: Long Table Conversations and Installation attendees can also visit the Sans Souci: 21st Century Arts Peace Altar that is installed at The Black House until September 30.