We Who Believe in Freedom


For this project, I wanted to focus on both the Spoken Word segment and Sound and Narrative segment of Sonic Cinematic.

In going into the project, I wanted to use techniques from the class but create a project that had a lot of thematic depth and meaning, as well as emoitonal impact on the audience. I was inspired by recent events of injustice and wanted to create a piece to show how media can spin facts, and to pay tribute, in a way, to injustices.

The beginning of the piece consists of clips from mainly Bill O’Reilly’s show on Fox, the O’Reilly Factor. I searched through videos of him to find specifically uninformed and offensive clips. I slowly layered more and more sound clips on top of each other until it was almost impossible to pick out specific words, then spliced his words together to say “we who believe in freedom cannot…”. I did this because I wanted to twist his words to echo the twisting of facts and ideas.

Then, a song comes in which is “Ella’s Song” by Sweet Honey in the Rock. This song is significant because the lyrics are taken from Ella Baker, an activist in the civil rights era. The lyrics read, “We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes. Until the killing of black men, black mothers’ sons, is as important as the killing of white men, white mothers’ sons.”

There is a moment of calm, where all that is playing is the music, and then the last half of the piece, symbolizing the other side of the story, begins. The clips I used on the second half are of a reporter arguing with Bill O’Reilly, Dorian Johnson (Michael Brown’s friend and eye witness), and Esaw Garner (Eric Garner’s wife).

This project was challenging in the sense that I watched hours of the O’Reilly Factor in order to find the words to splice into “we who believe in freedom cannot.” I hope I was able to effectively juxtapose the illogical and hateful words of the news reporters with the sadness and feelings of injustice of family and friends of two men who were murdered by police.


One thought on “We Who Believe in Freedom

  1. Hi Ella,

    I’m glad you chose to work on this topic–it is certainly timely, but not at all an easy topic to approach, artistically.

    I once took a class on children’s books. In analyzing a large sampling of books, one of the things that we found was that the stories that lingered in our minds for the longest amount of time after our reading were those that left us with a question. These books tackled important topics but didn’t set out to drive home a particular message or ‘moral to the story.’ Instead, they provided a context for the reader to be exposed to difficult issues.

    I would argue that politically charged art is most successful when it forces the listener/viewer to experience an uncomfortable juxtaposition without providing an answer. In your project, I wanted there to be more room for the listeners to be uncomfortable. The structure made this a bit difficult, since it was divided so clearly into two–completely opposite–halves.

    In dividing these stories over time you actually make them easier for your listener to experience–in real life these narratives are unfolding simultaneously. The simultaneity is part of what makes them so baffling, so incongruous, and so uncomfortable. I wonder how the experience would change, if, for instance, you explored a structure such as the one Rosie created in sharing multiple stories at once? The tension created by these uncomfortable juxtapositions would be very powerful.

    Thanks for sharing your work, Ella. It is a very thoughtful piece. Have a great break!


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