Artists march through New York proclaiming a new vision for justice

Wide Awakes March in New York. 10/03/2020.
Photo Niyi Fote/Thenews2

In the midst of a nationwide reckoning on racial injustice, a coalition of artists marched through Manhattan Oct.3, proclaiming a “radical reimagination of the future.”

Choreographed roller-skaters, a marching band and a contemporary choral group joined with a slate of speakers and leaders in voicing a multi-faceted call for change during Saturday’s grand procession, the centerpiece of a three-day justice celebration.

The weekend’s events kicked off on Friday with a participatory stage performance, and concluded with a series of boat parades replicated in harbors across America’s east and west coasts. 

Taken together, the themes and forms were various, but unified.

“As a curator and artist, we’re fortunate to experience firsthand the power of art to inform and mobilize creative thinking,” said contributing artist Hank Willis Thomas and curator Rujeko Hockley in a joint statement

Wide Awakes, an open-source artists’ collective, draws on the legacy of the young activists, who, under the same name, helped secure Abraham Lincoln’s presidential election in 1860. Revived and recontextualized 160 years later, the collective is today fighting the same themes of injustice and discrimination that prevailed then.

The group began assembling in January, before events in the spring and summer pressed home the lingering reality of racial injustice.

“One guiding belief of today’s Wide Awakes is that the mission of justice never ends. Likewise, art aligned with activism makes possible a long-term collaboration between creativity and justice,” Thomas and Hockley’s statement concluded.

By Jamie Wiggan/Thenews2 

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