Arts & Culture

The Sound of Protest: UK Programming Explores Relationship Between Music, Social Justice

photo of Rhonda and Sparky Rucker performing
photo of "Sounding Protest" poster

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 17, 2017) Scholars will explore the soundtrack of social justice at an upcoming afternoon of discussion and workshops titled “Sounding Protest: Reflecting on Social Justice in Music.” This free public programming at the University of Kentucky, scheduled for Oct. 20, will delve into the power of music to create change in society.

The day’s events will start with a concert by storytellers and folk musicians Sparky and Rhonda Rucker. The couple recently published the children’s book “Make a Change” inspired by Sparky’s own act of protest as a teenager at a pray-in in front of white-only eatery in 1960 Knoxville, Tennessee. The free public concert, presented in conjunction with John Jacob Niles Center for American Music’s “Appalachia in the Bluegrass” concert series, will begin at noon, Friday, Oct. 20.

Following the concert, a roundtable discussion will explore such topics as the various modes of sounding protest across different issues and forms of expression; social justice pedagogy; how to best mobilize different communities for social justice issues; lessons from music and protest in varied historical and cultural contexts; protest practices; and effectiveness or relevance of protest songs and other forms of protest today. The discussion will run 2-3:30 p.m. and will include the following scholars:

A reception will immediately follow this roundtable.

Two workshops will also be offered later that afternoon. Workshop I, “Civil Rights Songs with Sparky and Rhonda Rucker,” will begin at 4 p.m. Workshop II on the Balinese Marching Gamelan will begin at 4:45 p.m., and will close out the day’s programming.

All events presented as part of “Sounding Protest: Reflecting on Social Justice in Music” are free and open to the public and will be presented in the Niles Gallery of the Lucille Little Fine Arts Library and Learning Center.

“Sounding Protest: Reflecting on Social Justice in Music” is being made possible by an Inclusive Excellence Student Program Grant from the UK Office for Institutional Diversity. Co-sponsors for this programming are UK’s Division of Musicology and Ethnomusicology, School of Music, Department of African American and Africana Studies, FOCUS: The Graduate Music Research Association at UK, and Department of Anthropology

UK is the University for Kentucky. At UK, we are educating more students, treating more patients with complex illnesses and conducting more research and service than at any time in our 150-year history. To read more about the UK story and how you can support continued investment in your university and the Commonwealth, go to: #uk4ky #seeblue