The Department of Music presents Symphony of Diversity: a Thousand Thunderbolts, a musical and spoken word performance that commemorates, testifies, and engages. It is a remembrance, a demand for justice and a call to action to audiences around the world to stand up for human rights. Through the voices of Black American composers and historic Black civil rights activists, the chamber strings of Iowa State University honor the victims of the Tulsa Race Massacre, in the centenary year of the tragedy. Powerful, pertinent speeches by luminaries like Ida B. Wells, Frances Ellen Watkins, or W.E.B DuBois are brought to life by current Black civil rights leaders active in Tulsa and the Midwest. Their words are passionately delivered through pre- recorded video segments by those who know firsthand the tragedy of racism, or who preach in its shadow.
Tiffany Crutcher, whose brother Terence was killed at a Tulsa traffic stop, confronts America’s history of extrajudicial killing through the words of Ida B. Wells. Dr. Robert Turner, pastor of the church that was the sole edifice to survive the razing of Tulsa’s Greenwood district, challenges voter suppression laws and the denial of basic human rights through W.E.B DuBois’s “Men of Niagara” speech. Lessie Randle, one of the last living survivors of the 1921 Massacre shares her memories, her trauma, and her hopes, in exclusive footage. The spoken word segments, none longer than 6 minutes, are prefaced and followed by the music of Black composers both living and historic, including Jessie Montgomery, Florence Price, George Walker and Adolphs Hailstork. Lasting no more than one hour from start to finish, A Thousand Thunderbolts is a non-partisan presentation that tells the story of Tulsa and the unfinished story of systemic racism, from the perspective of those who lived it or are still living it. A perfect complement to diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, the production brings these issues — their history, their ongoing legacy- to audiences in an unusual, immersive way that invites engagement and reflection.