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Black Freedom Symphony


Welcome to Black Freedom Symphony

You just snagged a front-row seat!


I believe that joy is central to living a peaceful and purposeful life. So you can imagine how terrified I became when I almost lost that joy. I’ll explain how I got it back in a future blog, but first, let me tell you what happened.


Two months into the start of the global pandemic in 2020 I was locked up at home trying to understand this strange world where people were dying from a new airborne virus for which there was no cure, no treatment, and no vaccine. Every day, I saw how many souls we lost. It was sad and hard, but I was praying and reminding myself that things would get better and I had to be patient all while being vigilant. I felt like I was managing and then one day while watching the news, I saw something that disturbed me to my core. I stared at the screen in disbelief and shook my head back and forth saying, “I can’t believe what I’m seeing.” The murder of George Floyd broke something inside of me. Somehow I was angry and numb at the same time. I could not escape the image, not because my TV was on constantly, but rather because that video was seared into my mind- playing over and over. I kept thinking about the injustice and the sheer depravity of the act of slowly squeezing the life out of man. I thought about the historical acts of injustice that we know about and all the many more that we will never know of. I thought about current expressions of anti-Black ideologies, microaggressions, and persistent inequities. I felt my joy slipping away along with the words to express my grief.


Desperate to soothe myself, I started listening to the music of Marvin Gaye, Public Enemy, Bob Marley, and Nina Simone. These songs began to express what I could not find the words to say. The song lyrics justified my outrage and held my hand while I cried. A few songs turned into a few more songs; and more songs turned into feeling again. The music started to bring me back and I wanted to help bring others back through sharing these songs and so Black Freedom Symphony was born.


Black Freedom Symphony (BFS) is a curation of Black music across time, location, and genre. Across four different movements, it tells the stories of injustice toward Black people but equally highlights our tenacity to press toward the mark and reach our aspirations. While Movement One: The Hate We Live can be hard to listen to and digest, it is honest and seeks to pointedly name the injustices laced throughout the Black experience. This acknowledgment is a necessary and foundational step to achieve change. Black Freedom Symphony is harmoniously complex, contradictory at times, nuanced, varied, and yet blends together into a glorious symphony that ends in the joyous celebration of freedom.


I offer this experience to you with a sincere heart. I hope that it resonates with you, sparks conversation, causes reflection, and leads you to engage. The BFS website is designed to be exploratory and you can start with whatever captures your interest. But if you’d like a little hint on where you can start, check out the introduction to the first movement and click on the song tiles to listen and see the visuals. Or maybe you want to kick back and just listen to the songs of the symphony uninterrupted, then go to the Spotify or YouTube playlist and experience the story through the songs in the designed order. Also, consider signing up for our newsletter to keep up on BFS related events. Lastly, if you want to hear behind-the-scenes stories about Black Freedom Symphony, then check out our Facebook Live on Thursday, February 10th at 7:00 PM ET.


Let’s experience this glorious symphony together!

Natasha A. Mitchell is a founder and lead curator of Black Freedom Symphony.