The Fight for Freedom on Independence Day: The Freedom Fundraiser’s Artistry

July 15, 2020, 11:35 p.m.

The student-led Freedom Fundraiser on the Fourth of July showcased Black performances and art to raise money for organizations fighting for racial justice.

The Freedom Fundraiser raised money for the Anti Police-Terror Project, Coalition on Homelessness: In This Tent Together, Color of Change, Boris L. Henson Foundation and the Sister of the Movement — Black Business Recovery Fund. The hour-long live music and arts event had about 20 attendees and raised $450 according to Sabrina Raouf ’22, one of the event organizers. The fundraiser also provided attendees the chance to actively listen to Black voices, which to Raouf is one of the most integral ways one can support the Black community. Additionally, Raouf urged her audience to educate themselves on the Black community and systematic racism, vote for legislation and candidates capable of bringing racial justice, contact legislators to demand for police reform/defunding and greater educational access to underserved communities and, finally, to donate whatever they can to support organizations fighting for racial justice. The event was hosted on Zoom and requested a $5 entry fee, though it was not mandatory. The Zoom event was formatted as a webinar, with a select group of speakers showcasing their art, and the audience supporting the creators through a chat feature. The event was modeled after a Harvard sponsored event of the same name, which took place around a month earlier. 

The fundraiser featured many Black artists using their platforms to highlight the Black experience in America. It featured performances from Angel Marie ’21, who read poetic prose that emphasized nature and its connection to Blackness; Darnell “DeeSoul” Carson ’21 performed spoken word with a heavy connection to Christianity and Biblical verses; Tai Anthony McMillan ’22 sang his song “Happy Souls,” which emphasized finding solace in such harsh current events; Kailah Seymour ’22 exhibited her art highlighting pride in Blackness; Morgan Me’Lyn Grant ’20 showed a short film that accentuated the beauty of being Black and encouraged African Americans to embrace their Blackness; and Sabrina Raouf ’22 sung, rapped and gave speeches that promoted the Black experience. 

Not only did this event allow the audience members to actively listen to Black voices and support Black artistry, but it also provided the performing Black artists a place to “vent and to release emotions that they may have pent up or haven’t found another outlet to release,” Raouf explained. Art in this sense was “used for not only social change, but also to heal,” Raouf stated. This healing space became apparent throughout the performances as the Black artists shared their trauma and experiences of anti-Blackness in America without filter. To Raouf, this open sharing of “raw and emotional art” was “something beautiful” and “very healing.” Additionally, the chat feature enabled the audience members themselves to reflect on their experiences and verbally support all the artists for sharing their art and experience. Freedom Fundraiser became a space for artists and attendees alike to pitch-in and “empathize with the pain, joy, sorrow, or anger that is felt,” Raouf reflected. 

Contact Shoaib Jamil at sjamil ‘at’ student.norman.k12.ok.us.

Shoaib Jamil is a high schooler writing as part of The Daily's Summer Journalism Workshop.

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