Annual Broadway Stands Up for Freedom Concert Features Star-Studded Performances for NYCLU Youth Work
July 21, 2015 – The New York Civil Liberties Union’s 13th annual Broadway Stands Up for Freedom concert was a sold-out spectacular. Monday night, dozens of Broadway’s finest graced the stage of the NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts to salute the work of the NYCLU.
“We are so grateful to the Broadway stars who graciously took the stage in celebration of civil liberties and the arts,” NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman said. “Their generosity of talent and spirit not only resulted in one of the best shows to date, but raised awareness and money to support our youth programs. Brava to all the performers!”
Tony Award- winner Jeanine Tesori opened the show and delivered an eloquent keynote address. The NYCLU’s current civil rights work includes policing reform, LGBT rights, solitary confinement, immigration and women’s equality, and the packed audience included key figures in many of these areas. In attendance last night was Edie Windsor, lead plaintiff in the lawsuit that struck down the so- called “Defense of Marriage Act,” and family members of people who lost their lives to police abuse who went on to successfully advocate for a special prosecutor in cases of police killings, including Gwen Carr, mother of Eric Garner; Constance Malcolm, mother of Ramarley Graham; Carol Gray, mother of Kimani Gray; Valerie and William Bell, parents of Sean Bell; Hawa Bah and Souleymane Bah, mother and brother of Mohamed Bah; Cynthia Howell, niece of Alberta Spruill; Natasha Duncan, sister of Shantel Davis; Margarita Rosario, mother of Anthony Rosario; and Iris Baez, mother of Anthony Baez. The family members were accompanied by representatives of the Justice Committee.
Also in attendance were Deputy Mayor Richard Buery and members of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Leadership Task Force on School Climate; Lois Herrera, chief executive officer of the Office of Safety and Youth Development in the New York City Department of Education; and actor Eric Bergen. Proceeds from the show benefit the NYCLU’s youth programs, including its work with LGBT teenagers; its Teen Activist Project, which engages New York City teens as organizers and peer educators on civil rights and civil liberties issues; and its work to stop overly aggressive policing and zero-tolerance discipline in the city’s public schools.
Susan Blackwell was the host of the evening. The lineup featured 2015 Tony Award-winners Michael Cerveris (with Loose Cattle) and Ruthie Ann Miles; 2015 Tony Award-nominees Brandon Uranowitz, Sarah Stiles and Steven Boyer; and Montego Glover, Seth Rudetsky, Kate Ferber, Grace McLean, Shaina Taub, Liana Stampur with the Clinton Curtis Band, Rachel Resheff, Andrea Burns, Ashley Park and Joe Carroll, Malcolm Merriweather, Charles Duke and Brennan Hall, Matt Gould and Griffin Matthews, Gabriella Pizzolo and Christina Bianco.
The show was directed by Peter Flynn with Paul Staroba as musical director. Tony Kushner served as the concert’s honorary chair.
The evening’s highlights included a special presentation of the poem, “An Ode to Harlem,” by 19-year-old Nkosi Nkululeko, which won First Place for Creative Writing in the NYCLU Freedom of Expression Contest. The contest invites young people in New York City to speak their minds on important civil liberties issues of the day.
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The American Civil Liberties Union is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States of America.