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Mary D. Williams: “Voices of Freedom: Music and the Civil Rights Movement”

February 25, 2018 @ 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Mary D. WilliamsJoin gospel singer and educator Mary D. Williams for an aural history tour through performance of the music from the Civil Rights Movement, and come prepared to participate!

As part of the Civil Rights Movement, 2018 will commemorate the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s vision of The Poor People’s Campaign, or Poor People’s March on Washington, an effort dedicated to economic justice for poor people in the United States. “We Shall Overcome” and “Go Tell it on the Mountain” are two of the many songs that were part of the march and are considered anthems of the Civil Rights Movement. These songs had their roots as spirituals in their representation of the enslaved narrative. Many gospel songs and spirituals were repurposed and changed lyrically into what we know today as Civil Rights and Movement songs. Singers and musicians collaborated to develop songs that expressed determination and activism during mass meetings, marches, sit-ins, freedom rides and Parchman Prison. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., once quoted, ”The freedom songs are playing a strong and vital role in our struggle.”

Mary D. Williams currently serves as an Adjunct Professor at Duke University’s Center for Documentary Studies. As a performer and historian, Ms. Williams has become a leading voice and authority on the narrative of music and black southern culture. For over a decade, she has educated students, teachers, and communities about race through experimental lectures that blend performance, classroom engagement and traditional lecturing. She believes the music of her ancestors still has the power to bring people together today, as it did during slavery and the Civil Rights Movement. Recognized as one of the best gospel singers in the country, her aural history tour showcases protest songs from the Civil Rights Era and examines their connections to slavery and the Negro spirituals of that time. She uses music to help others examine and understand our shared history. Her performance offers a powerful message of faith, freedom, and celebration of the human spirit.

Admission is free. Advance registration is requested. Call 919-962-3000, or email to register.

Performance at 3 pm. Reception to follow at 4 pm.

Co-sponsored by The Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture & History; University Relations; University Office for Diversity & Inclusion; Department of African, African American, & Diaspora Studies; center for the Study of the American South; Carolina Black Humanities; Carolina Black Caucus; and Carolina Student Union


February 25, 2018
3:00 pm - 5:00 pm


The Friday Center
100 Friday Center Drive
Chapel Hill, NC 27599 United States
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