• Jakhira Cooper

"Seven Last Words of the Unarmed" to be performed in Tallahassee this month


Tallahassee composer Joel Thompson has written a very inspiring work of music to memorialize the tragic deaths of Trayvon Martin, Amadou Dialo, Kenneth Chamberlain, John Crawford, Michael Brown, Oscar Grant, and Eric Garner. Their stories and their deaths really hurt a lot of people, so Thompson decided to do something quite unique in honor of these young men.

Thompson took the last words uttered by the seven unarmed black men before they were killed and wove them into a symphony. This amazing musical piece titled "Seven Last Words of the Unarmed" is coming to the Capital City's Ruby Diamond Concert Hall in March 2019. "The piece's several movements ebb and flow between intense staccatos and flowing refrains anchored by silences," according to the Tallahassee Democrat.

"Joel Thompson's Seven Last Words doesn't intent to sow anger or inflame political divides within society but explores the universal concept of loss and the empowering possibilities of empathy," said Eugene Rogers, Choral Director at the University of Michigan. Amanda Stringer, CEO of the Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra, said in a recent interview that she has had her heart set on this performance coming Tallahassee because she feels that this powerful piece could be a way to get to community aware and talking about these types of issues that are still affecting us to this day and how can we try to improve the situation beyond this.

The deaths of these seven young men were all so senseless, and it has to stop because no one should lose one's life, especially the way these seven young black men lost theirs. Trayvon Martin was walking home from a convenience store when a neighborhood watch volunteer shot him. Kenneth Chamberlin, a former Marine, was killed when police broke down his door and shot him in his New York home. Eric Garner died after a New York officer placed him in a choke hold while arresting him, despite Garner pleading "I cant breathe." Eighteen-year-old Michael Brown's death was at the hands of a Missouri cop who shot him. These are just some of the names that this performance will be remembering.

Through this performance, Thompson and others hope to help us to look at each other with different eyes to see the humanity in each other. To empathize helps you to really see other people as people, and not just "others" or "them" or "they."