We Win When We Read

Submitted by Linnea Swenson Tellekson:

The Racial Justice Network’s Education Committee collaborates with the We Win Institute to provide beautiful books to Black children through We Win When We Read (and any other children who show up). For the rest of July, the Wild Rumpus Book Store in Linden Hills Minneapolis is making it really easy for you to provide children and youth with a book by and about people who look like them. Here’s a link to the site: https://www.wildrumpusbooks.com/WeWinWhenWeRead
The incredible power of seeing myself represented in the spotlight is something I have taken for granted as a White person. I’ve grown up and been surrounded by books and media by and about White people. One year the theme was She Speaks Her Truth for the National Summit for Courageous Conversations about Race. Except for the first, short speech when Glenn Singleton announced the theme, every single speaker, break-out leader, and entertainer was a woman. I realized by about the second day that never before in my life had I experienced one woman after another on stage, leading and teaching. It was an incredibly empowering and exciting experience for me. I didn’t share the race of any, but their womanhood prevailed. It gave me a visceral and personal understanding of the importance of having a curriculum that reflects the students. 
Last summer for the Juneteenth celebration in North Minneapolis, we launched the We Win When We Read initiative. Since then, the Racial Justice Network Education Committee has given away over 2000 books at various events. The children and youth love the books, and it’s wonderful to be able to provide them stories of interest to develop their love of reading. 
Please click the link and read more about We Win When We Read by Titilayo Bediako. Take a look at the wish list and buy some books! Your donation will be picked up at the end of the month. All you have to do is choose which book/books to buy! Here’s a link to the site: WeWinWhenWeRead WISH LIST

Jerod Impichchaachaaha’ Tate

Submitted by board member Kris Kautzman:

Jerod Impichchaachaaha’ Tate is a Chickasaw classical composer and pianist from Norman, Oklahoma, who expresses his native culture in symphonic music, ballet and opera. His work, which always authentically centers native peoples and cultures, has been performed around the world. I first met Jerod during his 3-year “Music Alive” residency with the South Dakota Symphony. In addition to performed commissions, his work with the SDSO included the expansion of the Lakota Music Project, where he taught composition to youth across several native communities. Jerod’s optimism and joyful energy are an inspiration, and his passion for collaboration imbues everything he creates! Here’s a recent interview on a Chickasaw news program, where he shares updates on creative projects during the pandemic (there were many!). You can also click here to listen to Chokfi’, a dynamic work for strings and percussion premiered by the Seattle Pacific University Orchestra in 2020. Want to go deeper? Check out “Ghost of the White Deer”, a gorgeous concerto for bassoon and orchestra, performed by the Dallas Symphony. Enjoy!

Castle of Our Skins

From MSO Board Member Kris Kautzman:
A couple years ago I had the honor to connect with of Castle of Our Skins, a Boston-based concert and educational organization dedicated to celebrating Black artistry through music. From classrooms to concert halls, COOS invites cultural curiosity and exploration into ​Black heritage and culture, spotlighting both unsung and celebrated ​figures of past and present. Their website is a treasure trove of stories, interviews, and performances. Like their Facebook page to get regular updates, and check out the winning videos from their recent  Black Composer Miniature Challenge: 30 second pieces for solo piano, solo viola, or viola-piano duo.

Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra

From Racial Equity Committee Co-Chair Christine Melchert:
This week we take an in-depth look at Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra, founded ten years ago and directed by Jeri Lynn Johnson in Philadelphia. Ms. Johnson has embedded diversity, equity, inclusion, and excellence into her orchestra from the start. Black Pearl’s mission is “to take the audience beyond spectatorship to participation in the musical experience by combining artistic excellence with cultural diversity and innovative community engagement.” The orchestra is comprised of the some of the finest African American, Asian American, Latin American, and European American musicians. As a result, their audience more closely reflects the makeup of the orchestra (56% African American and 34% white).   
Watch this short interview of Jeri Lynn Johnson to learn more about this group.
Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra recently performed in “See Me: A Global Concert” for the Davos Agenda and World Economic Forum. This international collaboration features Yo-Yo Ma and musicians from around the world who created this stunning musical production during the COVID-19 pandemic, showing the interconnectedness and resilience of humanity through the power of music.It’s worth the 23 minutes needed to watch!  See Me: A Global Concert