Kimmel Center calls for action in the form of song

Jack Tomczuk

The past week in the City of Philadelphia has certainly been historic. 

Protesters continue to plead for change following the death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis. Throughout Philly, there have been demonstrations showing that people will not tolerate racism in any form, and the protesters are not the only ones calling for action. Many top establishments from restaurants, to nonprofits, to sports teams to theaters, have been also using their platform to promote the Black Lives Matter movement, including the Kimmel Center. 

In a statement that was sent out recently, the Kimmel Center’s President & CEO Anne Ewers made it clear that the cultural institution strongly supports the protests regarding the murder of George Floyd. 

Jack Tomczuk

“The Kimmel Cultural Campus believes the diversity of our region is our strength and we are dedicated to creating an inclusive place where everyone feels welcome and valued both onstage and off. Engaging the region’s diverse communities in art through performance and education is core to our mission,” said Ewers in the statement. “The circumstances surrounding the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis are hurtful for everyone, African Americans in particular. Though we are unable to articulate a full understanding of the deep, historic pain felt, we empathize with our African American co-workers, board members, volunteers and guests experiencing unimaginable discomfort during these extremely dark times. We’ve been moved by hundreds of statements of support from organizations across the country, and we join their voices in acknowledging the power of protest and the history of oppression in our country. We strongly believe Black Lives Matter.” 

With the vision of ‘transforming lives daily through the arts,’ the organization has decided to take action themselves when it comes to the Black Lives Matter Movement. The Kimmel Center is still closed due to the current pandemic situation, but that’s not stopping them from making an impact. In the same statement, Ewers suggested a way for Philadelphians to collectively come together to show solidarity and support through an artistic channel. 

“We cannot undo years of systemic racism, but we’d like to bring Philadelphians and others in our region together though the uniting, empowering and uplifting power of song. Please join us by singing ‘Lift Every Voice and Sing,’ the Black National Anthem. The enduring significance and poignant lyrics of this inspired, cherished song of the Civil Rights Movement were penned by James Weldon Johnson and his brother, J. Rosamond Johnson, in the early 1900’s,” continues Ewers. “We cannot think of a better way to heal from this moment of racial injustice than by raising our collective voices for George Floyd and countless others. Please join in, lend your voice and your instrumental interpretations to what we are calling “Lift Philly’s Voice and Sing” for social change.” 

Jack Tomczuk

It’s right on par for the Kimmel Center to create this initiative. The organization has always been vocal about engaging the diverse communities in Philly and has always had the idea of inclusivity center on its stage. 

Philadelphians who wish to take part in this vocal showcase can do so by singing the entire song, or even just a verse that holds meaning for you. The Kimmel Center will be using its platform to help promote the song and act as a ‘megaphone’ for this initiative. The organization is aware that this act is a symbol that the City of Brotherly Love will not stand for racism, not exactly a solution—but in any form, it is a meaningful start. 

To share your rendition of “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” share your recording on social media, tag @KimmelCenter and use the hashtag #LiftPhillysVoiceAndSing.

To learn more information about the Kimmel Center, visit kimmelcenter.org

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