Photo: POWER director and Black Lives Matter cofounder Patrisse Cullors.

Black community members from the Seattle area are gathering to create original storytelling that addresses State violence in collaboration with Black Lives Matter cofounder Patrisse Cullors for Power: From the Mouths of the Occupied. Join us Oct. 20-21 at Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute.

Participants from the Seattle area met for the first time last weekend to begin rehearsals, which included discussions about policies and practices that target and suppress the Black community.

“We spent some time talking about the 13th Amendment and how it is written in the constitution to disempower and re-enslave those who were previously disenfranchised,” POWER Project Manager Sadiqua Iman said.

Ratified at the end of the Civil War, the amendment abolished slavery, with one exception: The amendment mandates that there shall be no slavery “except as a punishment for crime.” Some courts have interpreted the punishment clause more broadly, holding that prisoners are categorically exempt from the 13th Amendment’s protections. (UCLA Law Review).

This one exception contributed to the mass incarceration of the Black community and other communities of color. As part of a national effort to end State violence, Power: From the Mouths of the Occupied will feature the stories of Black community members who have been targeted by law enforcement and denied basic human rights in a collaborative performance that amplifies experiences that are typically unseen and unheard.

This is the first time the Seattle community will participate in Patrisse Cullor’s national production. Seattle participants will tell their stories to help transform our community and create change as part of this performance, which is directed by Cullors and co-produced by Seattle artist C. Davida Ingram.

“Seattle is home to many talented black artists and community members who believe liberation is a creative act. Seattle is also part of a national effort to end overincarceration and criminalization for communities of color,” Ingram said. “The local victories for Block the Bunker and organizing to stop the youth jail were possible because of love and people who believe that Black Lives Matter. Power brings these three vital tools—love, community organizing and art—to bear and I am deeply excited about Patrisse Cullors helping to galvanize the work of our communities with her vision of art that heals.”

Participants’ personal narratives will be combined with live performance, spoken word and visual media as they become part of a collection of national reflections. Through their stories they will explore what it means to be Black in Seattle.

“The fight for collective wellbeing for our communities and an end to State violence not only requires clear strategy and organizing, it depends also on cultivating the creativity necessary to heal from past harms and envision a new future together,” Cullors said.

Storytelling creates an opportunity for sharing, healing and progress. Theatre has a unique power that can move the national conversation on State violence against Black communities forward and into action. The stories in Power will speak directly to the brutality of State violence and offer a sense of resilience through community engagement and movement building.

Join us Oct. 20-21 at Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute.
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