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Tuesday, May 7

Rise Up: Tiananmen's Legacy of Freedom and Democracy

Tuesday, May 7, 2019
7 PM - 9 PM

Thirty years ago, students marched, tanks rolled, and blood spilled in the center of Beijing. A passionate movement towards democracy, free expression, and peace was born in Tiananmen Square, before the rapt attention of audiences around the world. Despite the Chinese Communist Party’s ongoing efforts to erase this event from historical accounts, Tiananmen’s legacy echoes with activists and artists today, as young people demand truth and democracy in Brazil, Venezuela, Hungary, the United States, and beyond.

The PEN World Voices Festival, Humanitarian China, and the Cathedral of St. John the Divine are proud to present a once-in-a-lifetime celebration of the dauntless courage and youthful defiance that challenged China’s authoritarian establishment. This event will feature key student organizers of the 1989 Tiananmen Square movement who fight to preserve its memory against censorship including poet Liao Yiwu, novelist Ma Jian, Zhang Boli, Wang Dan, Zhou Fengsuo, and Fang Zheng. Joining us for an unforgettable evening of poetry and song are the Reverend Dr. William J. Barber, II, one of today’s leading social justice advocates, translator Michael Martin Day, representatives from the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, and artists such as Jesse Paris Smith, Aja Monet, Martha Redbone and Aaron Whitby, as we remember the dissidents who marched in 1989, and honor those who continue the fight around the world today. At a time when totalitarianism has extended into the digital realm, the struggle to protect freedom of expression remains as vital today as it was thirty years ago in Tiananmen Square.

Please plan to arrive at 6pm to see The Value of Sanctuary, which uses the Cathedral’s sacred space as a canvas to illuminate the intersections between spiritual and social identity, and the ways in which personhood and community cohesion speak to and are formed by notions of dignity, inclusion, and exclusion.

Co-presented with PEN World Voices Festival and Humanitarian China, and in conjunction with The Value of Sanctuary: Building a House Without Walls.