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Sweet Honey in the Rock & Other Activist Artists Coming to Easthampton
Eastworks-based Rosenberg Fund for Children to sponsor local, social justice-themed events including multi-media Art & Activism-themed evening at Millpond.Live festival, and interactive artist workshops
For immediate release, 08/02/17
Easthampton, MA –The Eastworks-based Rosenberg Fund for Children (RFC) will be the presenting sponsor when Millpond.Live brings Sweet Honey in the Rock to Easthampton’s Millside Park for an “Art & Activism” themed evening on August 26th. Rooted in African American history and culture, this legendary, all-female vocal ensemble has centered their music in the struggle for social justice throughout its four-decade history. The evening’s line-up will also include musical sets by Climbing PoeTree and The Love Experiment, and the visual art of Sophia Dawson.
Millpond.Live (http://millpond.live/) is a grassroots arts festival in its second season, expanding to offer free, all-ages events for six weeks, from August 19th through September 23rd. Gates open each Saturday at 5:00 pm for picnicking and music starts at 6:00 pm. (Attendees can bring their own food and drink and purchase on-site refreshments from food trucks and Easthampton’s microbreweries.)
“Art & Activism” will be the second week’s theme, culminating in the August 26th performance. On that date, the visual art and music will not only entertain festival-goers, but also offer a chance for audience members to explore pressing social issues facing communities locally and across the country.
In addition to the musical offerings, the RFC’s sponsorship of the “Art & Activism” program will bring Brooklyn-based painter and visual artist Sophia Dawson to Easthampton for a mini-residency concluding with the August 26th Millpond.Live performance. Dawson’s work, examples of which are on her website at www.sophia-dawson.com/, explores police brutality and Black Liberation Movements among other themes. Her art will be displayed at the August 26th event as part of a new element at this year’s festival: pop-up visual art shows housed in shipping containers.
Earlier that week, the RFC will host Dawson as she presents “To Be Free,” an interactive workshop on U.S. political prisoners. This event at which older children are welcome, will include video and other information about this country’s political prisoners, and an opportunity for participants to interact with correspondence to and from several of these incarcerated individuals. “It’s a natural fit for us to sponsor Sophia’s participation in Millpond.Live including this workshop,” says RFC Executive Director Jenn Meeropol, “given our work supporting children of targeted activists in the U.S. and our long history of funding trips for children and grandchildren of political prisoners to visit their incarcerated loved ones.”
The workshop will take place on August 24th at 6:30 pm in the RFC office in Suite 348 of the Eastworks building at 116 Pleasant St. in Easthampton. Participation is free of charge but pre-registration is requested. See http://millpond.live for details.
The RFC’s sponsorship of Millpond.Live is part of an ongoing focus on “Artists as Activists” made possible by generous support from the Puffin Foundation, Ltd., that will include several other Valley events this fall. On September 9th the RFC will sponsor two area appearances by Rebel Diaz (www.rebeldiaz.com) – a hip hop group from the Bronx and Chicago who use music to spread knowledge about injustice. As part of the Sojourner Truth Social Justice Leadership School, Rebel Diaz will give a free workshop on “Hip Hop & Activism” on the morning of September 9th, from 11-12:30 at Wistariahurst in Holyoke (visit https://truthschool.org to pre-register). That evening, they’ll perform at Millpond.Live. And on October 21st, Valley folk favorites The Nields will present “Songs for the Children of Resistance,” a family-oriented concert hosted by Congregation B’Nai Israel in Northampton, benefiting the RFC.
“The RFC’s connection to socially conscious art and artists is deeply rooted,” notes Meeropol. “Artists ranging from Picasso to Paul Robeson were among the most prominent supporters of the fight to save my grandparents Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, the RFC’s namesakes.” After the Rosenbergs were executed in 1953, their sons Michael and Robert (Jenn’s father) were adopted by Abel and Anne Meeropol and raised in an artistic household. (Abel Meeropol is best known for writing “Strange Fruit,” the anti-lynching anthem made famous by Billie Holiday.)
“Music, drama and other creative outlets provided solace for my father and uncle as they grew up,” notes Jenn Meeropol. “When my dad founded the RFC, he knew firsthand the power of art to heal people and inspire social movements. Children we help are able to use our grants for art-related activities, and the RFC often enlists artists to tell our story to a broader audience. Given this history, we’re proud to be part of bringing these activist artists to our community.”
To request an interview or for more information contact Amber Black at firstname.lastname@example.org or (413) 529-0063.