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Funded on June 27, 2024
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Sunset 1919 is an annual community Art ritual. It is performed in honor of Eugene Williams, a Black teenager killed at the former 29th Street Beach—due north of the current 31st Street Beach—for crossing an imaginary racial line on the waves of Mishigami (Ojibwa for Lake Michigan and meaning “Great Water”). Historians consider this the spark for the Chicago race riots of 1919—one of many atrocities across America that year resulting in Black lives lost—altogether called Red Summer. Sunset 1919 offers a communal moment to acknowledge our Indigenous roots, decolonize the waters, and for Black artists to merge Movement, Music, and Word in a free, spirit-guided ritual.

About This Project

2020. We were told we could not go outside. We were told not to gather. And then cell-phone footage from Gakaabikaang (a.k.a. Minneapolis) erupted Us into the streets. From the murder of George Floyd came the imperative to Move. But, we were low down. So, we (J. Nicole Brooks and Kareem Bandealy) had ourselves a porch sit. Through the window, The Black Voices fed us verses from a plate called On the Street in Watts (1972). The whir of choppers in CHI skies and some decent brown kept us company.  We dreamt of what to do with our drives. Young Eugene Williams and the Chicago race riots of 1919 were calling. For it was all happening again…as it had happened long before…and as it all keeps happening. Yes, we were told not to gather. Because since late 2019, we’d had ourselves a COVID-19, echoing the Flu of 1919, resonating (all) with the Plague of 1619. So yes, as Lookingglass Theatre Company, we made a film, with many loving collaborators. This film premiered live on YouTube at 7pm on Eugene’s sunset date that year, July 27, 2020. The length of the film, 8 minutes 46 seconds.

2021-2023. With our film as a template, we gathered in masks—with safety foremost, gradually divesting of them over time—and practiced our first three in-person Sunset 1919 rituals by the shore of the Lake. Each year taught us about the ritual—what it can conjure and reveal, how it wishes to Move and Be.

2024. The ritual will begin with a gesture of Grounding and Consent guided by friends from Chi-Nations Youth Council. We will continue into a version of “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” We will commence the core of our practice with Music, Movement, and Word made in the moment and space by Black artists. The ritual will culminate in the release of a single white carnation to Mishigami and then we will release ourselves into communal dance. And yes, on July 27th 2024, Lookingglass Theatre Company will expand its practice by adding a permanent mural to the space. For we—along with our partners (CRR-19, Firebird Community Arts, Read and Run Chicago, and Englewood Arts Collective)—are establishing that space as “Eugene Williams Memorial Square.” Year after year, Sunset after Sunset, Eugene Williams Memorial Square will be marked with a mosaic of murals—marked with Art—and as such call to Chicagoans as a gathering place for communal Expression—owned by none, shared by All, always Free…and in Eugene’s name.

Your dollars will support the fee for the muralist, a pay raise for all artist-participants, an ADA-accessible portable restroom, and the hiring of a shuttle service to make Eugene Williams Memorial Square accessible to all.

Thank yous

Contribute any amount or choose from the levels below.

  • $20
    Social media shout out via Lookingglass Theatre Co. ($20.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $50
    Above + Lookingglass black logo coffee mug ($35.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $100
    All of the above + physical reproduction of historical, Chicago Crusader Run Eugene Williams graduation portrait signed on back by J. Nicole Brooks and Kareem Bandealy ($75.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $250
    All of the above + 2 tickets to a 2024-2025 Lookingglass Theatre production ($75.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $500
    All of the above + a signed copy of Dr. Eve Ewing’s book "1919" ($310.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $1000
    All of the above + coffee and conversation with J. Nicole Brooks and Kareem Bandealy ($810.00 is tax deductible.)

Kareem Bandealy & J. Nicole Brooks

J. Nicole Brooks aka Docta Slick (Taurus) and Kareem Bandealy (Cancer) are comrades in art, originating collaborators of Sunset 1919: A Ritual, and both Ensemble and Staff members of Lookingglass Theatre Company. Brooks is an actor, director, author, and …

View Kareem Bandealy & J. Nicole Brooks's profile
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