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July 4th Oration – Speaking Truth to Power

July 4, 2023 @ 11:00 am - 12:30 pm

Just as our Black abolitionists and their allies worked tirelessly to abolish the institution of enslavement and ensure equity in health care, jobs, education, housing, and voting rights for free and freedom seekers, so too have activists across time stepped up and dedicated their lives to working for equity and justice. On their shoulders we stand today as we, too, continue the freedom struggle.

Exemplars among us who stand tall in the tradition of our communal ancestors as agents of change are the speakers who shared their insights, wisdom and inspiration at the 1963 March on Washington. As 2023 is the 60th anniversary of this nationally significant event, UREC has decided to have excerpts read this July 4th from the speeches of A. Philip Randolph, John Lewis, Josephine Baker and others.

Woven into the readings will be musical selections shared by the nationally known folk duo Magpie, Terri Leonini and Greg Artzner, award-winning recording artists, singers, songwriters, musical historians, playwrights, actors and social activists.  According to Geoffrey Himes of the Washington Post, “They demonstrated the qualities that have made their records and folk festival appearances much admired all over North America: the breadth of their musical tastes, the depth of their commitment to humanist ideals, the precision of their chamber-folk arrangements and, above all, the graceful sympathy of their vocal harmonies–refined over the years to an effortless rapport.”

Dr. Kim R. Harris, PhD, of nationally known Kim and Reggie Harris folk duo, will join with Magpie in the sharing of musical interludes that will complement the excerpts from the speeches presented in Washington , D.C. at the 1963 March on Washington. Dr. Harris is the Assistant Professor of African American Religious Thought and Practice in the Department of Theological Studies at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. In addition to teaching courses on Black liberation and Womanist theologies, Harris leads music in a variety of liturgical and academic settings. She is a liturgist, composer and recording artist, presenting lectures on the music of the Black Catholic experience, the historic Negro Spirituals, and the freedom song of modern Civil Rights Movement. Harris is a member of the Black Catholic Theological Symposium and the North American Academy of Liturgy. She is an academic member of the African American Catholic Center for Evangelization in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, as well as a liturgical consultant for the Archdiocese of New York Office of Black Ministry. A gifted cantor, leader of song and a passionate cultural advocate, Harris earned a PhD in worship and the arts from Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York.

This is a family-friendly event. Thanks are extended to Beth Rivera who will manage a children’s space at July 4th Oration 2023.

Please know that the July 4th Oration is free and open to all. There are no tickets to this event. 

Please bring a chair for yourself if you can. 

Join us as we use Frederick Douglass’s 1852 speech, “What to the Slave is Your Fourth of July?” as the framework for reflections on how our communal ancestors, and in turn how we can be agents of change toward an equitable and just society in these tumultuous times.

Click  What to the Slave is Your Fourth of July?  to read the text of Frederick Douglass’s 1852 speech given in Rochester, New York.








July 4, 2023
11:00 am - 12:30 pm


Mary Liz Stewart
Paul Stewart


The Stephen and Harriet Myers Residence
194 Livingston Avenue
Albany, NY 12210 United States
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