The Center for the Study of Slavery and Its Legacies at Georgetown was inaugurated with this special launch event, featuring a live performance of “Requiem for the Enslaved” and a discussion with the artists moderated by Nolan Williams, Jr., multi-hyphenate creative and CEO, NEWorks Productions, in Gaston Hall at Georgetown University.
The Center was announced in March 2023 as a new academic home for research and scholarship related to slavery and its legacies at Georgetown, in Washington, DC, and in Catholic communities in the United States. Led by Professor and Founding Director, Adam Rothman, the Center supports rigorous faculty and student research, innovative teaching, creative projects, and collaborative programs that sustain Georgetown’s commitment to facing our history. Learn more about the founding of the Center.
Watch the Highlights
Requiem for the Enslaved
“Requiem for the Enslaved” honors the lives of the people enslaved by the Maryland Province of Jesuits and their more than 8,000 Descendants. Composed by Grammy-nominated and Georgetown Associate Professor Carlos Simon, and featuring Hub New Music, spoken word artist Marco Pavé and trumpeter MK Zulu, the piece infuses African American spirituals into a Catholic liturgical musical form.
Released by Decca, “Requiem for the Enslaved” debuted at the Library of Congress on Nov. 5, 2021, and one year later, it was nominated for a Grammy.
The Center for the Study of Slavery and Its Legacies held its inaugural event on March 18, 2023 with a musical performance by the Dr. Michael White Quartet and documentary screening of City of a Million Dreams about the history of jazz in New Orleans since the era of slavery and ongoing musical traditions — a tie to the center’s exploration of the past and present.
Compositions by Grammy-nominated Simon span genres – jazz, gospel, and contemporary classical music are noticeable influences – and can be found everywhere from film scores to concert music. Simon is the current Composer-in-Residence for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and frequently writes for the National Symphony Orchestra and Washington National Opera, with the 2022/23 season seeing premieres with Boston Symphony Orchestra, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Brooklyn Art Song Society and Minnesota Orchestra – a large-scale tribute to George Floyd and the ongoing movement for racial justice. A “young composer on the rise, with an ear for social justice” (NPR), Simon’s latest album, Requiem for the Enslaved, is a multi-genre musical tribute to commemorate the stories of the 272 enslaved men, women and children sold in 1838, and was nominated for a 2023 GRAMMY Award for Best Contemporary Classical Composition.
Called “contemporary chamber trailblazers” by the Boston Globe, Hub New Music is a “nimble quartet of winds and strings” (NPR) forging new paths in 21st-century repertoire. The ensemble’s ambitious commissioning projects and “appealing programs” (New Yorker) celebrate the rich diversity of today’s classical music landscape. Founded in 2013, Hub has grown into a formidable touring ensemble driven by an unwavering dedication to building community through new art. Over the last decade, Hub has commissioned dozens of new works and continues to usher in a fresh and culturally relevant body of work for its distinct combination of flute, clarinet, violin, and cello.
Marco Pavé is a Grammy Nominated Hip-hop artist and Memphis-raised Muslim writer who uses hip hop culture as a means of personal expression and social empowerment. With a decade’s worth of experience in the music industry under the name Marco Pavé, he’s released several EPs, an album, and wrote and staged an opera, Grc Lnd 2030. His writing and music has been featured on MTV News, NPR, and in the Oxford American. He is currently hip-hop artist-in-residence at Georgetown University in Washington, DC.
MK Zulu is a Grammy nominated trumpeter, rapper, and singer from Forestville Maryland. He has performed at some of the DMV’s most popular venues including The John F. Kennedy Center, The Atlas Performing Arts Center, and The Howard Theatre. Throughout his career MK Zulu has participated in over 30 releases, including one full length solo album and a solo EP.
Nolan Williams, Jr. is best described as a creative force. An award-winning producer, artistic director, composer/lyricist, playwright, film maker, musicologist, and cultural curator, the multi-hyphenate Williams has dedicated his professional career to the curation of works that illuminate issues of civil rights, social justice, and cultural curiosities. His work includes: choral/orchestral works premiered by major American orchestras; music for television; the bestselling African American Heritage Hymnal (over 500,000 copies sold worldwide); songwriting credits on two Grammy-nominated projects; arts and educational festivals produced in partnership with The Kennedy Center and Philadelphia’s Mann Center; cultural programming developed with the Smithsonian, U.S. State Department and multiple embassies; video/documentary projects, including the star-studded viral video “I Have A Right To Vote” (over 2,000,000 social media hits) and “Becoming Douglass Commonwealth” (winner of three gold media prizes); and a slate of theatrical productions, including his critically-hailed new musical, GRACE (BroadwayWorld Washington, DC’s 2022 choice for best musical and best new musical).
A resident of Washington, DC, Williams is the Kennedy Center’s Inaugural Social Practice Resident and CEO of NEWorks Productions.