Opera performances to focus on racial injustice

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Courtesy Opera Grand Rapids

Opera Grand Rapids will perform and host events that highlight racial injustice in the legal system.

The musical group will present three performances of “Stinney: An American Execution” at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Feb. 25-26, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 27, at the Peter Martin Wege Theatre, 41 Ellsworth Ave. SW in Grand Rapids.

“Stinney” tells the story of the execution of 14-year-old George Stinney Jr. who was wrongfully accused of the rape and murder of two white girls in South Carolina. His conviction was overturned in 2014.

The music is composed by Frances Pollock, and the script is by Tia Price.

“In telling charged stories, we as artists must be aware of our limited perspective and make sure we are working with collaborators who will challenge that perspective in the creative process,” Pollock said.

Before the three performances, Opera Grand Rapids will collaborate with Ebony Road Players, Eric William from the Smithsonian Museum of African American History, student artists from WMCAT, The Diatribe and other independent artists in a performance at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 24, at the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts at 17 Pearl St. NW in Grand Rapids.

The Federal Bar Association will partner with the Grand Rapids Bar Association on Friday, Feb. 25, to host a panel discussion on racial justice, state law and the artistic representation of stories like that of George Stinney.

The panelists include Pollock and Price, as well as Michigan Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist, former U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan Patrick Miles Jr. and Associate Dean and Director of Cooley Law School’s Innocence Project Tracey Brame.

More information is here.

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