Exploring Omar: Justice for Omar

It was while imprisoned in North Carolina in the early 19th century that Omar Ibn Said’s penmanship in charcoal on a jail cell wall captured the attention of the governor and, eventually, led to the writing of his autobiography on which our opera Omar is based. In looking at that moment through a contemporary lens, “Justice for Omar” focuses on artists as activists and asks how the arts have and can respond to Black trauma (i.e., over policing, mass incarceration, and recidivism) and triumphant, healed, and unapologetically happy Black joy. Panelists—including renowned choreographer and director Bill T. Jones and Charleston Poet Laureate Marcus Amaker—will address how writers, visual artists, and performers exhibit freedom of expression. Tamara Butler of the Avery Research Center at the College of Charleston serves as moderator.