Just Announced: Join for the return of two series exploring racial and social justice and celebrating community

Logos for Spotlight Series and Amplifying Solidarity

August 3, 2023

The Institute for Advanced Study, Northrop, and partners are thrilled to announce the return of two special series—the Spotlight Series and Amplifying Solidarity! In 2023–2024, these programs will shine a light on the University of Minnesota campus and local community while using the arts to explore racial and social justice.

The Spotlight Series is a collaborative partnership between the Institute for Advanced Study and Northrop to present lectures, conversations, performances, exhibits, and other events focusing on racial and social justice. The 2023–2024 offerings explore the theme Moving Through Injustice and include conversations delving into the roots of jazz and tap dance; the historic and artistic implications of percussion as an embodied practice in the American South—plus a silent film experience examining Black family and community life in South Minneapolis post-World War II. Guest panelists include Ayodele Casel, hailed as a “tap dancer and choreographer of extraordinary depth” (The New York Times), acclaimed local Hip-Hop artist Truth Maze, independent filmmaker Ralph L. Crowder III, and others. Spotlight Series events may be attended in Northrop’s Best Buy Theater or online via Zoom. 

A collaboration between Northrop, Institute for Advanced Study, Multicultural Student Engagement, School of Music, and Welcome Week, Amplifying Solidarity is a set of five free outdoor events on the Northrop Plaza Stage featuring BIPOC, Queer, and Womxn+ artists. This year’s lineup includes a Hip Hop celebration with TruArtSpeaks, local sensation Nur-D, innovative North American taiko with TaikoArts Midwest, eight-piece band The Smitty Pit, and the celebrated UMN Gospel Choir. In case of inclement weather, these performances will be moved indoors.

Looking for the Fall 2023 IAS Thursdays schedule? The full IAS Thursdays series will be announced in mid-August. Stay tuned!


Fall 2023 Spotlight Series

Illustration of Black man playing instruments

Spotlight Series: The Black History of Jazz

Thu, Sep 28, 3:30 pm CT
In-person / Online
Northrop, Best Buy Theater

It is impossible to see jazz without acknowledging its African roots, evolving over centuries as musicians and dancers alike used the form as an outlet for the expression of Black identity, culture, language, struggle, and joy. Join for a rich conversation about the history of jazz and tap, and how these rhythms came to be heard all over the world today.


Dancer on black background with white burst of light shining out behind him

Spotlight Series: Drumfolk and the Stono Rebellion

Wed, Oct 11, 3:30 pm CT
In-person / Online
Northrop, Best Buy Theater

When the Stono Rebellion cost Africans the right to use their drums, the beats found their way into the body of the people—the Drumfolk. Join for a lively conversation about the historic and artistic implications of percussion as an embodied practice in the American South.


Design of old style film roll with images of African American families and community

Spotlight Series: The Lost Negroes of North America: A Silent Film Experience

Thu, Nov 2, 4:30 pm CT
In-person / Online
Northrop, Best Buy Theater

The decade following the conclusion of World War II is a rich period in American history and progress, but is also a time when African American contributions to family, education, social institutions, and collective wealth are often overlooked. Rare silent film footage, accompanied by live performances and a panel with the director, offers a different perspective and reflection on northern family and community life.


Image of four black musicians

Amplifying Solidarity: TruArtSpeaks

Wed, Aug 30, 12:00 pm
Northrop Plaza

Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Hip Hop with a stage performance curated by TruArtSpeaks. Featuring Derrick Gichaba, Cecil “VIRGO” Neal, Nakara Forjé, Tish Jones, Desdamona, MaLLy, ShaVunda, and DJ Just Nine.


Image of black man with sunglasses, colorful button up on purple background

Amplifying Solidarity: Nur-D

Wed, Sep 6, 12:00 pm
Northrop Plaza

Enjoy a DJ set from Nur-D, one of the fastest-rising stars in Minnesota—with soulful sounds, powerful energy, and pop culture punchlines wrapped up into a show that everyone can enjoy.


Image of taiko drummers in movement

Amplifying Solidarity: TaikoArts Midwest: Ensō Daiko

Wed, Sep 13, 12:00 pm
Northrop Plaza

Ensō Daiko offers loud, energetic performances that combine music, dance, culture, and pure athleticism—adding their unique voice to the expanding canon and innovation of North American taiko.


Singers on stage with neon lights

Amplifying Solidarity: The Smitty Pit

Wed, Sep 20, 12:00 pm
Northrop Plaza

Join eight-piece band The Smitty Pitt for an afternoon of R&B, pop, funk, and neo-soul vibes.


U of M Gospel Choir members on front steps of Northrop

Amplifying Solidarity: University of Minnesota Gospel Choir

Wed, Sep 27, 12:00 pm
Northrop Plaza

Join the University of Minnesota Gospel Choir for a wide-ranging performance of musical styles filled with joy, love, and peace.






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