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Let’s talk about Freedom: Black Lives Matter activist heads to Hull

“Hull – A city with freedom in its bones, but are we free? What does that really mean today?”

As political tensions rise around the world and people take to the streets to defend their thoughts, opinions and, in some cases, human rights, a series of talks will address the issues of Freedom and protest at this year’s Freedom Festival.

In partnership with Hull UK City of Culture and the University of Hull, Freedom Festival is hosting a series of six timely Freedom Talks beginning on Friday 1 September, which will open up a wider discussion about Freedom.

The Freedom Talks will include two conversations with Brooklyn based, black American Muslim activist Blair Imani. Following her experiences at a Black Lives Matter protest in Baton Rouge, in response to the killing of Alton Sterling in July 2016, Blair has become a prominent figure in the movement and a high-profile community activist.

On Sunday 3 September, outspoken visual artist Bob and Roberta Smith will join Blair in conversation. The pair met when Blair was interviewed for BBC4’s Bob and Roberta’s Excellent Protest Adventure in November and the talk in Hull will cover similar topics of the power of protest and whether direct action, demonstrations and marches actually achieve anything. In conversation – Blair Imani and Bob and Roberta Smith takes place at Hull School of Art and Design on Sunday at 2.30pm.

Bob and Robert Smith’s exhibition, This is a Freedom of Expression Centre, is currently on display at Hull School of Art and Design as part of Hull 2017’s Look Up programme. The exhibition includes a 14.4m long painting of two key passages from his previous interview with Blair and will be on display until 3 September.

Along with her talk with Bob and Roberta Smith, Blair will also take part in a panel discussion alongside Catherine Baker and Mark and Marichka Marczyk from Counting Sheep called Protest, why bother? in the festival tent in Queens Gardens on Sunday at 12:30pm.

Mikey Martins, Chief Executive and Artistic Director of Freedom Festival Arts Trust, said: “We’re delighted to welcome Blair Imani to be part of our Freedom Talks. Freedom and protest are at the heart of this year’s Festival and in the current political climate we’re excited that Hull is hosting such timely conversations and debates around the topic of Freedom and the role that art continues to play in freedom of expression.”

“Together as a city, let’s explore these themes of freedom, let’s listen to artists, academics, activists and most importantly let’s listen to each other.”

Freedom Talks:

  • 1 September 6pm – 7pm Tent Talk 1 – Identity and cultural bias @ The Speak Out Tent Featuring Suzanne Clisby, Jenna Rossi Camus and other guests
  • 2 September 12.30pm – 1.30pm Tent Talk 2 – Can art inspire responsibility? @ The Festival Tent Featuring Eva Verity, Kerrie Lee and Annie Roy
  • 2 September 6pm – 7pm Tent Talk 3 – Can creativity really effect social change? (SOT) Featuring Ruth Daniels, IPOW artists and Catherine Baker
  • 3 September 12.30pm – 1.30pm Tent Talk 4 – Protest, why bother? Featuring Catherine Baker, Mark and Marichka Marczyk and Blair Imani
  • 3 September 3pm – 4pm Tent Talk 5 – In plain sight – Modern day slavery amongst us @ The Festival Tent Featuring John Oldfield, Emma Graham-Harrison and others
  • 3 September 2.30pm – 3.30pm Tent Talk 6 – In conversation – Blair Imani and Bob and Roberta Smith @ Hull School of Art and Design Featuring Blair Imani and Bob and Roberta Smith

All of the Freedom Talks other than the final Sunday 2.30pm talk will be BSL Interpreted.

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