Thursday, January 31, 2008

Afeni Shakur: In Her Defense - Exhibition Opens

Atlanta, GA – January 7, 2008 – The Tupac Amaru Center for the Arts (TASCA) proudly announces a pair of artistic offerings entitled Afeni Shakur: In Her Defense, detailing Shakur’s arrest as a member of the Black Panthers, and culminates in her acquittal on all 156 felony charges in the Trial of the Panther 21. The first part of the multimedia experience known as In Her Defense, is a gallery exhibition (February 1 – March 28, 2008) highlighting the events as they unfolded over the course of two years (1969 -1971), in which a courageous young woman defended herself against an over-zealous court system. The play, In Her Defense premieres February 22nd, and brings to life the events in a more interactive form; the two artistic endeavors aim to shed light on the power of one woman to overcome insurmountable obstacles in her quest for freedom.

In 1969, Afeni Shakur was arrested alongside other members of the renegade civil rights activist group the Black Panthers. The group was arraigned on over 156 differing charges associated with conspiring to destroy New York City department stores, subway stations, and police stations. At the time of her arrest, Shakur waived her rights to a lawyer, opting to serve as her own legal counsel. Known as The Trial of the Panther 21, the case captured the nation’s headlines, and would hold the distinction at the time, of being the longest and most expensive political trial in the state of New York. Over the course of two years, Shakur would be incarcerated while awaiting her trial, released on bail numerous times, only to return to her jail cell carrying an unborn child. Shakur would ultimately prevail against the legal system, acquitted of all charges just over a month before the birth of her son ... Tupac Amaru Shakur.

On display from February 1 – March 28, 2007, In Her Defense the gallery installation is a collection of photographs, court transcripts, and television news footage documenting the courtroom drama. Amassed from numerous primary sources, including Shakur’s own private collection, the documents include portions of the oral transcripts from the trial – her opening and closing arguments. The exhibit also features original television news coverage (from 1969-1971) anchored by CBS' Walter Cronkite, among other broadcast journalists.

Providing the panache only afforded in theater, In Her Defense the short play dramatizes the historical events in three scenes. Using the court transcripts, supplemented by a fictional account of Shakur’s time behind bars, the play is a one-woman show supplemented by Pac’s Kids performers in the roles of the other co-defendants.

In Her Defense is not just a reflection on Afeni Shakur’s struggle, but a celebration of the enduring strength of the human spirit. Documenting an important time in the African American experience and the civil rights movement, it seems natural to open the gallery exhibit on the first day of Black History Month. Additionally, the exhibit continues through the end of March, to encompass Women’s History Month and commemorate the conviction of one glorious woman.

The gallery exhibit is free and open to the general public. Admission to the play is $15 for adults and $10 for students. Both the Play and Exhibit will be at the Tupac Amaru Shakur Center for the Arts (TASCA), located at 5616 Memorial Drive, Stone Mountain, GA 30083.

Afeni Shakur: In Her Defense Dates To Remember

In Her Defense: The Gallery Exhibit February 1 – March 28, 2008

Exhibit Opening Night Reception February 1, 2008
In Her Defense: The Play Feb. 22 – 23; Feb. 29 – Mar. 1; Mar. 7 – 8; all performances begin at 7:30p

Play Opening Night Reception February, 22, 2008

Art and Music Series Night March 7, 2008

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