Nina Simone once said that “an artist’s duty is to reflect the times.”
“At this crucial time in our lives, when everything is so desperate, when every day is a matter of survival, I don’t think you can help but be involved,” Simone said.
It makes sense, then, that the Black Lives Matter Global Network is on the forefront of honoring and deepening the tradition of merging art and activism in today’s movement.
Last week, at California African American Museum, BLM Global Network introduced its new arts-and-culture project The Provocateurs: A Masters Series last week in conjunction with the museum’s “We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965-85” exhibition.
According to the press release:
The program featured 12 minute TED talk style performances, presentations and talks by a variety of multigenerational visual artists, dancers, spoken word artists, DJ’s and authors providing an array of personal experiences with radical art and activism. Dancer Shamell Bell reminded the audience to, “Use your talent for the movement,” and Staceyann Chin affirmed that, “Rage is mighty important.”
Best-selling author Walter Mosley and Emory Douglas, former Black Panther Party minister of culture, were among the brilliant presenters and panelists at the event. Patrisse Khan-Cullors, BLM co-founder, artist and organizer, told those in attendance, “Every moment is a historical moment.”
Yes, it is times like these, times of disruption and political reckoning, when the facade of hope is diminished, that the relationship between art and activism is abundantly clear.
The Provocateurs was taped live and will be shown online later this year.