FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 2, 2023
2023 Burning of Kingston Offers New, Inclusive Programming
Jazz Event to Highlight the Plight of Slaves During War
KINGSTON, NY – Mayor Steven T. Noble is pleased to announce that the City of Kingston, with partners Ulster County and Old Dutch Church, will host a special Burning of Kingston program, Jazz Vespers: The Plight of Slaves During the Revolutionary War on Saturday, October 14 at 5:30pm at Old Dutch Church.
Jazz Vespers: The Plight of Slaves During the Revolutionary War will feature the CDS Jazz Ensemble with Christopher Dean Sullivan on bass, Chief Baba Neil Clarke on percussion, and Neil Alexander on piano. The program will include readings from Ulster County’s first-ever Poet Laureate Kate Hymes, Reverend Evelyn Clarke reading The People Could Fly by Virginia Hamilton, and Old Dutch Church Minister Rob Sweeney reading his original work, Up from the Ashes.
“We are honored to bring more inclusive programming to this year’s Burning of Kingston event,” said Mayor Noble. “This wonderful event acknowledges the pervasiveness of slavery during the Revolutionary War through song and poetry. Through this artistic expression, we can look at the Burning of Kingston through the eyes of all those who experienced it. I believe this is an important spotlight on these historical events.”
“I am proud to be a participant in this event as it is being presented through important and perhaps unexpected tools in teaching history - jazz and spoken word,” said Chris Sullivan. “Africans were trafficked to this area against their will and brought with them an ancestral, musically-sophisticated culture-- the building blocks of jazz. Kingston now serves as an integral path towards real community development and cultural acknowledgment. Through this program, we will become one world, one voice, as we look to heal old and new wounds.”
Ulster County Poet Laureate Hymes said, “The NYS Constitution was adopted April 20, 1777 in Kingston quoting large sections of the 1776 Declaration of Independence: ‘They…have been deaf to the voice of justice…’ Indeed, the American patriots were deaf to the voices of the enslaved. Still, the enslaved insisted on being heard. They spoke the language of self-emancipation. The opportunity to strike out for freedom and liberty came to them in Kingston on October 16, 1777. Rather than burning of a city, they saw a pillar of fire leading the way to the promised land.”
Minister Sweeney said, “We are our ancestor’s highest hopes and wildest dreams. Dreams so large generations would pass before they could even be realized. Our ancestors call out to us to continue working towards a world of freedom and justice that were not obtained in their lifetime. And those of us who have lived in a better time than those of the past must dream even larger dreams than what in the present will see, so that our descendant’s generations on will live in greater peace, love, and liberty that we have yet to experience.”
The free program is open to the public and is part of the 2023 Burning of Kingston. For the full schedule go to www.burningofkingston.com.