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Unconventional Heroes: An Evening of Performance to Honor Courageous Resisters

Image by Ann Messner, Malcolm X at Hotel Teresa

Skirball Center for the Performing Arts, NYU
566 LaGuardia Place at Washington Sq. South
New York City
August 26, 2004 at 7:30 PM

Skirball Center for the Performing Arts, NYU 566 LaGuardia Place at Washington Sq. South August 26, 2004 at 7:30 PM

On August 26th, the Artists Network of Refuse & Resist! will present "Unconventional Heroes: An Evening of Performance to Honor Courageous Resisters" sponsored by the NYU student chapter of the National Lawyers Guild at Skirball Center for the Performing Arts , NYU. Recipients include Aaron Lebowitz, a high school student in Darby, Montana who resisted a resolution to make creationism part of the public school curriculum, and Juanita Young, a leader of the movement against police brutality in New York City.

For more than a decade Refuse and Resist! has been presenting awards to individuals, groups, and communities that engage in remarkable acts of resistance. Courageous Resisters like those who will be recognized in August put their reputations, their jobs and even their lives on the line. Given the current climate of war and repression, in which resistance itself is under attack, their refusal to remain silent is a source of extraordinary inspiration.

On August 26th some of the country's most distinguished artists including: Gerry Becker, Dan Bern, Blair Brown, Steve Earle, Peter Gerety, Timothy Hill and Seth Markel, Vijay Iyer, Erik Jensen, John Buffalo Mailer, Ellen McLaughlin, Omar Metwally, Odetta, Michael O'Keefe, Mikel Paris, Beau Sia will come together at NYU's Skirball Center for the Performing Arts to perform in honor of the resisters. The honorees include (list in formation):

Bretton Barber, a high school student in Dearborn, Michigan, who defied school administrators when he refused to take off a t-shirt emblazoned with an image of Bush and the words "International Terrorist."

Michael Berg, who responded to the videotaped beheading of his son Nick, an independent contractor in Iraq, by demanding an end to all violence in that country and around the world.

Rachel Corrie, a volunteer with the International Solidarity Movement in the Occupied Territories who was murdered by Israeli Defense Forces while trying to prevent the demolition of a Palestinian home in 2003. Her parents will accept the award.

Mitchell Crooks, who videotaped the LAPD police beating Donovan Jackson, a 16-year-old black man, in 2002, defied the right-wing media and the police who then arrested him on a five-year-old misdemeanor.

Bill Keys, a school board member in Madison, Wisconsin, who refused to enforce a state law that made it mandatory for students to recite the Pledge of Allegiance

Aaron Lebowitz, a high school student in Darby, Montana who led students and adults to fight against a school-board-supported resolution to teach creationism as part of the public school curriculum.

Aaron McGruder, the creator of "The Boondocks" comic strip. Published in 300 newspapers each day, McGruder's characters consistently tell the truth about injustices committed by the U.S. government with humor and style.

Camilo Mejia, who is the first soldier to go AWOL because of his opposition to the Iraq war and the American-inflicted atrocities, is currently in prison serving the maximum penalty of one year for desertion.

Dave Meserve, the city council member who sponsored the Arcata, California ordinance that makes voluntary cooperation with unconstitutional investigations or arrests under the Patriot Act a crime punishable by $57.

Bill Nevins, who refused to censor the closed-circuit TV reading of an iconoclastic poem by one of his students at Rancho Rio High School in New Mexico. Nevins was fired and the Write Club/Poetry Team were disbanded by the school's administration.

Michael Newdow, a Sacramento physician with a law degree, who argued before California's 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal and the U.S. Supreme Court that the phrase "under god" in the Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional.

Santa Cruz Librarians, who defiantly opposed the USA Patriot Act by shredding library patrons' records and posting warning signs about the FBI's authority to subpoena patrons' records, thereby setting an example for others in their field.

Toni Smith, a basketball player at Manhattanville College who, in the months leading up to the war on Iraq, turned her back on the US flag during the singing of the national anthem. She continued to do so before each game in the face of threats and protests.

Jason West, the mayor of New Paltz, New York was charged with 19 criminal counts when he rushed to married marry gay and lesbian couples in February 2004. The charges against Jason brought by the state of New York were dropped in June.

Juanita Young, the mother of Malcolm Ferguson (murdered by the NYPD in 2000), who continues to be a leader in the movement against police brutality despite threats and brutalization by the police.

We honor these remarkable people for their courage and refusal to be intimidated. In these times, they are truly unconventional heroes.

Sponsors include Artists Against the War, Bread and Roses 1199/SEIU, Center for Constitutional Rights, Citizen Soldier, The Nation, National Lawyers Guild/NYC Chapter, and the initiators of the Not in Our Name Statement of Conscience.

For more information see

Read about past recipients of Courageous Resister Awards

Make a donation to the Courageous Resister Awards today!

Download a PDF flyer for the event.

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