UConn Denies “Occupy” Artist the Right to Free Speech

I was recently invited to perform at the University of Connecticut on November 4th as the principal performer for a “Political Awareness Rally”. About a week before the event I got an email from the organizer, who ironically I met at Occupy Wall St, saying people were concerned about my performance, particularly the song “Occupy (We the 99).”  I thought this was very strange because this is supposed to be an institution of higher learning that welcomes all types of ideas, plus the event was a rally for political awareness. The organizer said he would not censor me, but if I performed it I might not get paid. Then I received an email directly from the comptroller of the Undergraduate Student Government saying specifically I could not perform “Occupy (We the 99).”

I initially agreed to perform only a set of songs the University of Connecticut deemed “not political” because the event had already been advertised around campus and didn’t want to disappoint my fans by not showing up. I also didn’t want to let down the organizers who did a lot of hard work in putting the event together. But when I arrived at the University of Connecticut I had a change of heart. As I looked around the crowd I began to think of all the people around the world occupying for a better tomorrow, being arrested and brutalized by police, sleeping in the cold and rain, sacrificing comfort for freedom. I knew at that moment I had to perform the song, “Occupy (We the 99)” as well as other “political” songs like “Real Gangstas” (about the Wall St bankers), even if it meant I would not get paid. At some point in this movement all of us are going to have to make sacrifices, if we truly want to see real change. The 1% control the 99% with promises of money, access, and comfort; we have to put our own souls above all three.

Sincerely,

Jasiri X

 

Comments

  1. APS Member says:

    USG did not organize the rally, only your performance. They also funded your performance directly, whereas Alternative Political Society funded the rally itself using Funding Board money. Not that it’s right what they did (and it’s not) but I want to get the right information out there.

Leave a Reply