A Closer Walk With Thee: A Jazz Funeral for Black Men Who Have Died Unjustly


On Monday evening, many Brown students and Providence residents gathered around the steps of Manning Chapel to honor African-Americans who were killed in recent years due to police brutality and gun violence. The ceremony and procession, organized by graduate students at the Alpert Medical School in collaboration with the Office of the Chaplains and Religious Life and the Brown University Center for Students of Color, served as a powerful memorial for the many African-American lives that were taken too soon.

The memorial commenced with a brief introduction and several moving speeches from Rev. Janet Cooper Nelson, the organizers of the event, and representatives from The Institute for the Study & Practice of Nonviolence. The speakers mourned the deaths, read the names of the many dead men and women (each followed by a poignant “unarmed”), urged the crowd to force the issue of racism to be confronted in their lives and in America, and yearned for justice for the fallen. The service also featured a performance by Brown’s Gospel Choir, a poetry reading, and a solo, a cappella arrangement of “Just A Closer Walk With Thee” (the namesake of the event).

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