Let Freedom Ring
84 Church St SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455
On August 28, 2023, we honored the enduring legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as members of the community commemorated and celebrated the 60th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs & Freedom. Dynamic artists activated memories from the Civil Rights era, inspiring each of us to stand in solidarity and renew our commitments to do the hard work of securing liberty and justice for all!
Let Freedom Ring featured Jovonta Patton, Joe Davis & The Poetic Diaspora, Threads Dance Project, Thomasina Petrus, members of the Twin Cities Choral Consortium, and spoken word artist Eshay Brantley. Minnesota’s Attorney General Keith Ellison gave a ‘call to action’ at the concert’s close, sending us off to accelerate our efforts that can heal, relaunch, and move forward together into the next 60 years!
Curated by G. Phillip Shoultz, III
associate artistic director, VocalEssence and artistic director, U of M MLK Tribute Concert
View photos from the procession and concert:
Jovonta Patton is a five-time #1 chart-topping Billboard recording artist, composer, producer, and entrepreneur. “A reedy baritone, Jovonta’s singing voice, while firmly rooted in the modern gospel tradition, is readily accessible, offering an edifying approach he calls ‘pop-gospel,’ which proved successful on his self-released album Finally Living, making him the first independent gospel artist to have a #1 album on the Billboard gospel charts.” (Thom Jurek, AllMusic.com)
Eshay Brantley (she/her), a multidisciplinary artist born in southside Chicago, moved to Minneapolis in 2004. Social justice advocate, teaching artist, and mother. Brantley’s artistic work commenced in a ritual-based performance. She is dedicated to nurturing the narratives of Black folks, Black womanhood, and Black maternal. Over the past ten years, she has worked with Children’s Theater Company, TruArt Speaks, Minneapolis Community Ed, Park Square Theater, Washburn High School, PBS Twin Cities Public Television, The University of Chicago, Guthrie Theater, Ambiance Theater, Exposed Brick Theatre, Tangible Collective, and Women for Political Change. She’s currently a ECI Fellow and a Spotlight Education Teaching Artist in Residence at Hennepin Theater Trust. Eshay is committed to the work she does in the Twin Cities arts community and continues to plant seeds for a better future for Black babies.
Thomasina Petrus is a local theater artist, musician, and producer well known throughout the Twin Cities, having acted with Penumbra, Park Square, Mixed Blood, Illusion, Guthrie, Capri and Old Arizona Theatre companies. A true “hometown girl”, Thomasina Petrus has cultivated her talents as an actor and jazz vocalist through mentorships and friendships of some of the Twin Cities most beloved artists. Thomasina has performed with/for great artists like James “Cornbread” Harris, Sr., Javetta Steele, Stokley, Regina Williams, Prince, and of course T. Mycheal Rambo, Lou Bellamy, Lewis Whitlock, and now Marion McClinton. She is inspired to continue creating exceptional music and theatre, having established her own production company, Thomasina Productions to produce “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill” by Lanie Robertson, portraying Billie Holiday’s music and historical legacy. She has also written her own show “Lady Days” and “Etta…Dreams o Remember,” a musical/biographical revue of the life of Etta James.
Journeying through the sonically diverse realms of old school and new school hip hop, R&B, funk, and soul, Joe Davis & The Poetic Diaspora seamlessly blend melodic harmonies, smooth instrumentation, and raw, poetic energy to tell stories of struggle, resilience, and celebration. Formed in the heart of the Twin Cities, the collective is dedicated to crafting vibrant soundscapes around honest narratives that reflect their community's sacred humanity. Each song is an ancestral echo, a battle cry calling for freedom, an unending dance for justice and joy, welcoming all of the diaspora home.
Threads Dance Project is a contemporary ballet company which seeks to examine, expose and celebrate the threads that bind humans together; and create dialogue, acceptance, and understanding for the audience through the dance experience. Threads was nominated for a SAGE Dance Award (2015), has toured to sold-out audiences in Atlanta, GA, and Philadelphia, PA, and co-hosted the 2017 McKnight International Choreographer, Salia Sanou, of Burkina Faso/France.
Threads Dance Project was established by Artistic Director Karen Charles to be a national organization that betters humanity through dance.
G. Phillip Shoultz, III, associate artistic director, uses the power of the spoken word and song to foster community and inspire action among people of all ages and abilities. Phillip conducts festival choirs and leads workshops across the United States and beyond. He serves on the faculty of the University of St. Thomas and guides the ministries of worship, music, and the arts at Westwood Lutheran Church. The Minnesota Orchestra regularly engages Phillip to host their Young People’s Concerts and his online presence continues to grow as his pandemic livestream, Take 5 with GPS, rapidly approaches the 450 episode milestone. The winner of numerous honors, including the ACDA Graduate Conducting Competition and multiple Teacher of the Year awards, Phillip founded “Table for More” in the summer of 2020 to help organizations address issues related to innovation, equity, and belonging in the arts. Phillip lives in St. Louis Park with his wife, Michelle, and their two children (Malachi and Lydia Grace).
Getting to the Concert
Information about parking and directions can be found on Northrop's website.
A parking event rate of $10 will be in effect at Church St. Garage, Nolte Center Garage, and 4th St. Ramp. If you wish to avoid the event rate you may consider parking at East River Road Garage, Weisman Art Museum Garage, or University Ave Ramp. More information about parking facilities on campus.
Introducing the Dream Initiative
2023 marks the 60th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs & Freedom where the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered the historic “I Have A Dream” speech. Inspired by historical and contemporary justice movements, the Dream Initiative, based in the College of Liberal Arts, invites Twin Cities organizations and communities to engage in opportunities that commemorate, foster reflection, educate and amplify our shared, social justice aspirations and actions for change.
Extending our deepest gratitude to all who are supporting this event:
The Givens Foundation for African American Literature
"The work of The Givens Foundation is designed to provide meaningful access and exposure to all those who are interested in this important literary art form. We hope that through this process of self-discovery, individuals become self-empowered to make their greatest attempt to make this a better world in which to live."
Herman J Milligan Jr., Ph.D., acting executive director
“We are advancing inclusion, diversity and equity at Medtronic to achieve zero barriers to opportunity. This means we are building a culture where all our people belong, are respected and feel valued for who they are and what they contribute. We draw inspiration from the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in our work. We are moving faster toward a future where we more fully leverage all our collective strengths—from our Mission to our people, from our buying power to our influence—to remove barriers to equity in our workplace, across healthcare and within the communities we serve.”
Dr. Sally Saba, Medtronic chief inclusion & diversity officer and Medtronic Foundation president
The Minneapolis Foundation
The Minneapolis Foundation drives collective action to realize strong, vibrant communities. The Foundation cultivates generosity by taking action on the greatest civic, social, and economic needs—partnering with nonprofits, facilitating grantmaking, driving research and advocacy, and providing services to donors seeking to make a difference in their communities. The Foundation's support comes from its Fund for Safe Communities which was established in 2018 to support tangible, specific, and meaningful actions that address and prevent violence.
Minnesota Public Radio
Smaby Family Foundation
"We're delighted to support the commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the March on Washington and Martin Luther King's iconic 'I Have a Dream' speech. The event's goal to advance 'Dream-inspired innovations' education, music, and the arts resonated with our own mission."
Gary Smaby, managing trustee
“TigerLion Arts is honored to support Let Freedom Ring's artistic program. Dr. King advised people to "make your career humanity." As creative professionals, we know that art serves as a universal language and a vehicle for deep understanding and healing. This work is TLA's mission in action—celebrating humanity's wisdom through art that awakens the spirit and inspires this community!”
Markell Kiefer, executive artistic director
TigerLion Arts, Artistic Production Support
University of Minnesota Foundation
Robert H Bruininks & Susan A Hagstrum
Louis & Alissa Clark
John Coleman & Laura Leitch
Kim & Steph Miller