The Courage to Be: Reverend Osagyefo Uhuru Sekou04-20-2016
(Images courtesy of Jessica Chappe.)
Our Courage to Be fellows Jason Toney and Ava Lindenmaier reflect on Reverend Sekou's lecture, "The Courage to Rebel: Ferguson, Faith and the Future of American Democracy." We'd also like to acknowledge and express our appreciation toward our performers for the evening (included below):
(Reverend Osagyefo Uhuru Sekou - Lead Vocals)
Ajana Nanabuluku - Piano
Ethan Evans - Guitar
Raina Sokolov-Gonzalez, Ava Lindenmaier - Vocals
Sagiv Galai - Drums
Carolyn Heitter - Sax
Reverend Osagyefo Uhuru Sekou and Jay-Marie Hill visited Bard College as part of the Courage to Be Program’s lecture series. Reverend Sekou’s presentation, entitled, “The Courage to Rebel: Ferguson, Faith and the Future of American Democracy,” was a combination of lecture and musical performance. With several Bard students accompanying Rev. Sekou and Jay-Marie, the evening began in song. The first track, “Goodbye, Baby,” tells the story of the mother of a martyred son — a son killed by police brutality. Without fail, the songs served as reinforcement for the content of the lecture.
Rev. Sekou staged his lecture around three spiritual ages; the spirit of the age of angst (zeitgeist der angst), the spirit of the age of freedom (zeitgeist der freiheit), and the spirit of spiritual love (zeitgeist der agape). These distinct spiritual conditions, as Rev. Sekou explained, shape the kind of society in which we live, and, at bottom, they serve as explanatory mechanisms for contemporary manifestations of protest and courage.
Amongst the major themes Rev. Sekou touched on are wonder, the occupation of public space, contemporary rejections of traditional leadership, and the problematic nature of the nation state. It was these themes that enabled Rev. Sekou to begin to deconstruct the popular mythology of the Civil Rights Movement and place contemporary actors in a re-contextualized history of social action. The Reverend argued that “West Florissant in St. Louis is our Tahir Square” and that, because traditional leadership has been rejected, “Al Sharpton can’t come on that street at night in Ferguson.” These themes, as Rev. Sekou witnessed, are brought to light by actors putting their bodies on the line. This fundamental notion, of putting one’s body on the line, was an essential criteria in his discussion of courage and it was embodied in his performance.
To learn more about our "Courage to Be" program, click here.