Thirty years ago, students marched, tanks rolled, and blood spilled in the center of Beijing. A passionate movement towards democracy, free expression, and peace was born in Tiananmen Square, before the rapt attention of audiences around the world. Despite the Chinese Communist Party’s ongoing efforts to erase this event from historical accounts, Tiananmen’s legacy echoes with activists and artists today, as young people demand truth and democracy in Brazil, Venezuela, Hungary, the United States, and beyond.
Directed by Elena Rodriguez
Script by Catherine Filloux
The PEN World Voices Festival, Humanitarian China, and the Cathedral of St. John the Divine are proud to present a once-in-a-lifetime celebration of the dauntless courage and youthful defiance that challenged China’s authoritarian establishment. This event will feature key student organizers of the 1989 Tiananmen Square movement who fight to preserve its memory against censorship including poet Liao Yiwu, novelist Ma Jian, Zhang Boli, Wang Dan, Zhou Fengsuo, and Fang Zheng. Joining us for an unforgettable evening of poetry and song are the Reverend Dr. William J. Barber, II, one of today’s leading social justice advocates, translator Michael Martin Day, and artists such as Fogo Azul, Sonia Guiñansaca, Jesse Paris Smith, Aja Monet, Martha Redbone and Aaron Whitby, poet Huang Xiang, Julia de la Cruz and Alex Schelle from the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, and Students for a Free Tibet Board Member Chemi Lhamo, as we remember the dissidents who marched in 1989, and honor those who continue the fight around the world today. At a time when totalitarianism has extended into the digital realm, the struggle to protect freedom of expression remains as vital today as it was thirty years ago in Tiananmen Square.
Please plan to arrive at 6pm to see The Value of Sanctuary, which uses the Cathedral’s sacred space as a canvas to illuminate the intersections between spiritual and social identity, and the ways in which personhood and community cohesion speak to and are formed by notions of dignity, inclusion, and exclusion.
Presented with Humanitarian China and the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, with production support from the Poetry Foundation.
This event is presented in conjunction with The Value of Sanctuary: Building a House Without Walls, on view at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine through June 30. Beginning with the historic framework of the Cathedral as a site of welcome and refuge, this multidisciplinary exhibition explores the question of sanctuary through the work of modern and contemporary artists, illuminating the intersections between spiritual and social identity and the ways in which personhood and community cohesion speak to and are formed by notions of dignity, inclusion, and exclusion.
This event is part of the World Voices Festival My Story stream, supported by Amazon Literary Partnership.