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Composer Joel Thompson Participates in a Conversation with Black Artists and the Public on the Role the Arts Have in Addressing Race and Violence Against People of Color

Composer Joel Thompson’s work exposes the painful realities of life in the United States for men and women of color. His powerful multi-movement choral work “Seven Last Words of the Unarmed” is a timely, visceral and moving piece that speaks to racial inequities and violence against people of color. The work features the words of Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Oscar Grant, Eric Garner, Kenneth Chamberlain, Amadou Diallo, and John Crawford. These seven African-American men were each killed by police or other authority figures.

On Monday, June 15 at 7:30 p.m., Midland Center for the Arts invites the community to join a conversation with Thompson to discuss his work and the current upsurge of protests against police brutality and racial violence. The conversation will also include acclaimed soprano, Jayme Alilaw, and 44-year Midland Symphony Orchestra veteran musician, bassist Roland Wallace, and moderated by Matt Travis, Director of Orchestral and Choral Programs at Midland Center.

“Our mission is to be a cultural destination where ALL people feel welcome. We have chosen to explore this issue to help our community better understand and process the current upheaval and the racial issues that continue to exist in our society through the lens of art. Our goal is to provide a forum for open respectful discussion.” said Midland Center President & CEO, Terri Trotter.

This free event will be streamed live on the Center’s Facebook Page at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, June 15. This platform will allow viewers to engage in the discussion by asking questions of the artists. Individuals looking to join the discussion that do not have a Facebook account can simply visit at the time of the event. Audience members are encouraged to watch Thompson’s work in advance – links to performance videos are available at

This free virtual conversation is the first in a series of activities designed to support dialogue around issues of race in the community, supportive of and led by people of color with whom every person can listen, learn and act. The event is supported by the Mu Alpha Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, The Midland Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc, the Midland Inclusion Council and the Cultural Awareness Coalition. For more information, visit

About the author

Josh Holliday

Josh Holliday

Josh Holliday is the former Director of Communications at Midland Center for the Arts. Telling the stories of artists, innovators and modern day explorers!

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