With Liberty: Unplugged!, Nolan lead the Philadelphia community in celebrating the messages and movements of three iconic men: Frederick Douglass, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Nelson Mandela. The focus on these three icons coincided with the convergence of three anniversaries of note: the 150th anniversary of the 13th Amendment, the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, and the 25th anniversary of Nelson Mandela's release from imprisonment.
The Liberty: Unplugged! festival featured a series of special concert events, community partnership initiatives, and educational programs. It began in May and continued through September 2015. Throughout these five months, audiences, artists, and scholars were invited to ”unplug” history from its traditional modes of instruction, creatively reinterpreting the still-timely themes of these men and their movements: freedom from modern-day slavery, voting rights, and human rights (local and global).
Presented by The Mann Center and NEWorks Productions
Chicago Metamorphosis Orchestra Project
Danse4Nia Repertory Ensemble
KIPP Du Bois Collegiate Academy
Moore College of Art & Design
Mother Bethel AME Church
PhilAsh Entertainment Group
Philly Youth Poetry Movement
Play On, Philly!
S Factor Entertainment
Sharon Katz & The Peace Train
Universal African Dance and Drum
University of Pennsylvania
West Chester University
In partnership with Philly Youth Poetry Movement (PYPM), the Liberty: Unplugged! Poetry Slam, a citywide contest, invited Philadelphia youth to explore the central Liberty: Unplugged! festival topics of human trafficking, voting rights, and human rights on a local and global level. Participants were featured on the festival’s digital platforms and the finalists were invited to perform as part of the festival finale event.
Scholar-artists from the KIPP Du Bois Collegiate Academy were engaged for several weeks in an elective after-school program inspired by the Liberty: Unplugged festival. They researched speeches by Frederick Douglass, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Nelson Mandela, then worked cooperatively to paint each historical figure along with excerpts of their most renowned speeches. Their finished product, an impressive nine-paneled mural, was unveiled on June 5, 2015 and put on display in the Mann's Welcome Center for their 2015 summer season.
Mural Student Artists and Instructor: Mahalia Strickland, Audrey Jones, Kennedy Parks, Sharda Snead, Kamilah Gittens, Carnesha Walton, Nasreen Hughey-Mainor, Dimir Ramsey, Jessica Harron, Art Teacher
In partnership with Child’s Play, a non-profit arts education theatre group, young scholars from four Philadelphia public schools participated in “Peace by Piece.” In September 2015, they were inspired to create group-generated stories showing how they can make a difference in the world and bring about peaceful solutions to problems. In November of the same year, Child’s Play returned to the schools in to perform the developed stories for the scholars.
This free concert showcased works that explored festival themes, including: spirituals performed by student musicians from Play On Philly! and the Chicago Metamorphosis Orchestra Project; a newly choreographed dance piece by Danse4Nia Repertory Ensemble for the Oscar Award-winning song “Glory” (from the motion picture, Selma); a new theatrical piece in tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr., performed by Universal African Dance and Drum Ensemble; a tribute to Nelson Mandela performed by Sharon Katz & The Peace Train; and finalists from the festival’s citywide poetry competition.
Three Men, Three Movements was the inaugural concert event for Liberty: Unplugged! This free community event was produced in partnership with Play On, Philly! (POP), the Philadelphia Youth Poetry Movement (PYPM) and ODUNDE365. The concert was held at Mother Bethel AME Church and featured works commissioned and created specifically for the project, including musical repertoire created by POP, as well as spoken word pieces created by the Philly Youth Poetry Movement.
Students from Moore College of Art & Design worked on a semester-long design project centering on the 2015 festival icons Frederick Douglas, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Nelson Mandela.
The design of Samantha Siermine, a junior Graphic Design student at Moore, was selected from the work of 15 student artists. Her work was incorporated into all online and print branding throughout the festival.
Saturday, September 12, 2015 | 1:00PM
Moore College of Art and Design
As a signature event of the 2015 Liberty: Unplugged! festival, Nolan conceived the Liberty: Unplugged! Twitter Town Hall, a forum in which young scholars were engaged in critical and open dialogue about three themes that, as in the days of Douglass, King, and Mandela, still threaten the cause of liberty locally, nationally, and globally: modern-day slavery, voting rights, and human rights.
Actor and activist Hill Harper moderated this forum, which took place live at the Moore College of Art and Design, located along the Parkway, Philadelphia's cultural Mecca of world-class museums. Through streaming/webcast and live tweeting, satellite gatherings of youth scholars in other key parts of the country were engaged in the conversation.
The Liberty: Unplugged! Twitter Town Hall was a community forum in three parts:
Twitter Town Hall
Moderated by Hill Harper
Co-moderated by Dr. Stefan Bradley, Dr. Lisa Weah, Dr. Mari Crabtree, and Jazzy T
- This forum engaged young scholars in critical dialogue about the three themes of modern-day slavery, voting rights, and human rights, which were highly prevalent in the days of Douglass, King, and Mandela. Leading the discussion were student presenters from Temple, University of Pennsylvania, Cheyney, Drexel, and West Chester: Imani Rothwell, Christian Warrick, Devin Randall, Lamont Williams, and Jocelyn Butler (respectively). Through live web stream and Twitter, satellite gatherings of student scholars in Charleston, SC; Ferguson, MO; Baltimore, MD; and Buffalo, NY joined the conversation.
Poetry Slam Presentation
- The finalists of our citywide poetry contest competed live. The Poetry Slam was presented in partnership with poet Greg Corbin and the Philly Youth Poetry Movement.
United We Band
- The day culminated with a musical showcase featuring emerging, young Philadelphia artists performing songs of social justice. Presented in partnership with Artists United, S Factor Entertainment, and PhilAsh Entertainment Group.
Independence Blue Cross, Lomax Family Foundation, Louis N. Cassett Foundation, Mann Center, Merck, Moore College of Art & Design, NEWorks Productions, Philly Youth Poetry Movement, and Syde Hurdus Foundation