Genre: Past Event
Arts & Ideas, Community, Conversation
Let us march on, ’til victory is won
The Apollo Theater commemorates Juneteenth and the liberation of enslaved African-Americans on June 19, 1865. On this day, we honor the lives and contributions of our ancestors and their fortitude that paved the way for the innovation, thought leadership, creativity and culture that the Apollo embodies today. We offer these resources, performances, and guides for young people based on past Apollo Theater productions, with the hope that they will be useful if you are seeking ways to engage in conversations and activities around race and injustice during this time.
A Statement from Executive Producer Kamilah Forbes:
In 1934, the year the Apollo Theater was founded, W.E.B. DuBois came to New York City and gave a speech stating that it was imperative that the African-American community “found its own institutions, to educate its genius, and at the same time, without mob violence or extremes of race hatred, to keep in helpful touch and cooperate with the mass of the nation.“
It was the same year the country was reeling from one of the highest rates of unemployment in our history and in the midst of the Great Depression, while also reckoning with public lynchings that were taking place across our country.
During that same period, Billie Holiday took to the Apollo Theater stage and sang Lewis Allen’s poem “Strange Fruit,” one of America’s most important protest songs.
The Apollo Theater has a deep history of nurturing Black artistic genius, promoting artistic excellence and Black artistic excellence as a foundation of American culture. We have always understood the relationship to culture and American citizenship.
Long before politicians passed civil rights legislations and voters went to the ballot box to elect the first Black president, Black artists and audiences thrived in the safety and love and creative spaces of the Apollo Theater as a way of celebrating their humanity and heritage.
The Apollo has never wavered, always believing that Black Art is paramount and that All Black Lives Matter.
And today our relevance and urgency couldn’t ring more true.