The Jazz for Justice Project, which originated at UT Knoxville, has gotten a little unexpected national publicity, thanks to a photo in the current issue of Newsweek magazine.
Jazz for Justice was created in 2006 by Religious Studies Professor Rosalind Hackett, along with concerned students and musicians. Its mission is to help raise awareness and funding for the plight of women and youth trying to rebuild their lives after 22 years of brutal civil war in northern Uganda.
The Newsweek photo accompanies a story in the May 25 issue about the hunt for insurgent warlord Joseph Kony. It pictures a woman wearing a yellow T-shirt that says “Knoxville Jazz for Justice 2007” while she’s being fitted with an arm prosthesis. The photo, shot by Peter Van Agtmael and marketed by Magnum Photos, appears on page 62.
Hackett identified the woman in the photo as “Rose.”
“She is someone we work with and support,” Hackett said. “She was abducted by the rebels and lived with them for many years and had several children while in the bush. Her lower arm was cut off by one of the rebels as he tried to kill her.”
Word of the photo spread among Jazz for Justice participants last week in a flurry of e-mails.
Hackett said it’s not the first time a Jazz for Justice T-shirt has helped the group get national or international exposure.
“We did an exhibition at last year’s concert and a First Friday exhibit at the Unarmed Merchants store downtown featuring photos of lots of famous people wearing our T-shirts in this country and in Uganda,” she said.
Recent UT graduate Erin Bernstein, who was active with Jazz for Justice throughout her undergraduate years and has made three trips to Uganda, said one of the most exciting T-shirt sightings was on the “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” show.
Bernstein said she and other Jazz for Justice members attended a concert by musician/activist Brett Dennen (http://brettdennen.net/) in Knoxville in February. Afterward, they spoke to Dennen’s bass player and gave him a Jazz for Justice shirt. He then wore the shirt when the group performed on O’Brien’s show a few nights later.
Meanwhile, UT faculty and students continue their work in Uganda through Jazz for Justice and other programs. This summer, three UT students will be working in Uganda. Those students are Dustyn Winder, a rising senior in Global Studies, who lived in Uganda during the summer of 2008 and visited again over Christmas break 2008-09; Erin Cagney, a rising junior in anthropology, who visited Uganda for the first time over Christmas break 2008-09; and Lindsay McClain, a senior in College Scholars, who visited Uganda in July 2007, spring semester 2008 and Christmas break 2008-09.
The next Jazz for Justice concert will be held on Friday, Oct. 2, at the Catalyst (formerly Blue Cats) in Knoxville’s Old City.
To learn more about Jazz for Justice, see http://www.knoxjazzforjustice.org/.