On Sunday, June 7th, from 11 in the morning until 5 that afternoon, Oshkosh will be celebrating freedom with music, dancing and food at Opera House Square as two great events are combined into Freedom Summer Comes Home 2 Race Unity Project.
“First off, this is a remembrance of the Civil Rights Movement,” Lee Sonoski said.
Lee, along with Michael Flanagan, are organizing the event.
“Last year, we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Summer,” Lee said “we want to honor the accomplishments of the Civil Rights movement by bringing different groups of people together through music, and perhaps communicate more effectively.”
The Race Unity Project, which is in its 22nd year, will begin its portion of the program at 11 and will include mariachi music, Hmong dancers, the Oshkosh Rhythm Institute, and a wide array of ethnic foods as well as a number of informational booths.
For the Freedom Summer Comes Home music, Sosnoski tapped co-producers Gwen Carr and George Halas, who produced the highly-regarded Martin Luther King Celebration in Oshkosh this past January.
In addition to being one of the area’s premier jazz vocalists, Carr has an even more impressive resume as an activist for social justice. As she did for the King program, Carr will include first-hand accounts of the Civil Rights movement as well as songs both poignant and relevant.
“I am doing this because I believe music and social justice go hand-in-hand,” Carr said. “We have a tremendous challenge ahead to fulfill the expectations of our ancestors who fought so long and so hard for our freedoms.”
“Music is a great way to get this message across to people who might not be as accepting if you told them,” Carr added, “because music bypasses the brain and goes directly to the heart.”
Oshkosh resident and international jazz star Janet Planet will be joined by guitarist Tom Theabo in a special guest appearance.
Carr has assembled an exceptional band of Oshkosh’s finest that includes drummer/bandleader Mike Malone, Andy Mertens playing bass, Kelvin Kasper on guitar and Julio Reyes playing saxophones. Composer and arranger Tom Washatka has provided new arrangements for the songs.
In case of rain or inclement weather, the program will be moved to the First Congregational Church in Oshkosh.