Jun 17, 2020

La MaMa LiveTalks: The Struggle for Black Freedom

La MaMa in partnership with the Center for Constitutional Rights and CultureHub

a black arrow pointing downward

La MaMa in partnership with the Center for Constitutional Rights and CultureHub presents La MaMa LiveTalks, conversations with artists, activists and thought leaders from around the country and around the world who join in discussions about art and life in times of crisis.

We are in an unprecedented moment of two pandemics: COVID-19, which is new, and white supremacy, which is centuries old. Communities and social movements are demanding that we reimagine the role of police in our society as a vital step in defending Black lives, and more people are answering that call than ever before. Why now? Our panelists will give important context to this moment: what has led us here and where we can go.

The panel will include Center for Constitutional Rights Executive Director Vincent Warren, Executive Director of FIERCE Mustafa Sullivan,
and photographer, writer, and Co-Author, MFON: Women Photographers of the African Diaspora, Laylah Amatullah Barrayn.

Moderated by Ryan Leach (La MaMa)

You can join this event by tuning in on this page, or the CultureHub watch page, or LaMaMa’s Facebook page to watch and join the conversation.

This event is part of the Center for Constitutional Rights programming, Juneteenth: Celebrating Black Resistance and Dreams of Freedom.

Headshot of Laylah Amatullah Barrayn

Laylah Amatullah Barrayn is a documentary photographer and occasionally organizes exhibitions. She is the co-author of MFON: Women Photographers of the African Diaspora, the first anthology in nearly 30 years that highlights photography produced by women of African descent. Barrayn is a frequent contributor to The New York Times covering art and culture. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, with solo exhibitions at The Museum of the African Diaspora San Francisco, The Taubman Museum of Art (VA), MAK Gallery (Venice + London) and the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporic Arts (NY). She is a member of Kamoinge, a pioneering collective of African American photographers founded in 1963. She was included as one of the Royal Photographic Society’s (UK) Hundred Heroines. She is a 2017 African Great Lakes Reporting Fellow with the International Women’s Media Foundation, a 2018 finalist for the Dorothea Lange–Paul Taylor Prize at the Center for Documentary Studies, Duke University and included in OkayAfrica’s 2019 100 Women. Barrayn is currently working on a book on contemporary Black photographers.

Headshot of Mustafa Sullivan

Mustafa Sullivan was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York as a Black Muslim. He builds by using active listening, compassionate agitation, fearless strategy, spiritual prowess, and a side of Black Caribbean Gay Muslim warrior wisdom. He works tirelessly to build an ongoing national movement of Trans Queer and Gender non-conforming youth leaders to reinvent America’s schools in multiple states across the US. He uses the tools he’s learned from movement building with youth and communities of color who face multiple intersections of oppression through building intentional disciplined movements. He is also completing the Universal Partnership Embodied Leadership Coach certification. Mustafa moved to the Bronx in 2003 and started his movement work leading environmental justice work with Black and Latino youth in Van Cortlandt park. As a youth organizer and later Director of Sistas and Brothas United (SBU), he built multiple community and school-based campaigns including the Alliance for Educational Justice (AEJ) where he later served as the National Campaign Organizer in 2010. In 2014, he joined the staff of the Gay Straight Alliance Network as the Director of National programs based in Oakland, California. He was excited to join Fabulous Independent Educated Radicals for Community Empowerment (FIERCE) in 2016 first as the board co-chair then in his current role as the Executive Director. FIERCE is an organization he looked up to when he came out in the late 1990’s that works to build the next generation of our movement’s leaders. Outside of his organizing work he has been writing for over twenty years by creating original plays, poems, short stories, and a novel he works on when he has the time. He believes the world can change using three ingredients: love, light, and revolution.

Headshot of Vincent Warren

Vincent Warren is a leading expert on racial injustice and discriminatory policing and is the executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights. He oversees the organization’s groundbreaking litigation and advocacy work, using international and domestic law to challenge human rights abuses, including racial, gender and LGBTQIA injustice. Under his leadership, the Center for Constitutional Rights successfully challenged the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policy and profiling of Muslims, ended long-term solitary confinement in California’s Pelican Bay Prison, and established the persecution of LGBTQIA people as a crime against humanity. The Center for Constitutional Rights is currently challenging the abuse of migrants at the U.S. Southern Border, the Muslim Ban, the torture of prisoners in Abu Ghraib, and the criminalization of transgender people, as well as providing legal and policy support to Black, Brown, and Native organizers across the country.

The Center for Constitutional Rights works with communities under threat to fight for justice and liberation through litigation, advocacy, and strategic communications. Since 1966, the Center for Constitutional Rights has taken on oppressive systems of power, including structural racism, gender oppression, economic inequity, and governmental overreach. Learn more at ccrjustice.org.

Fabulous Independent Educated Radicals for Community Empowerment (FIERCE) is a membership-based organization building the leadership and power of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) youth of color in New York City. FIERCE began in 2000 as a response of resistance by young LGBTQ people who wanted to stop the gentrification of the West Village and to collectively fight against police violence against our community. Our membership and staff have always been LGBTQ folks who are directly impacted by various systems of structural oppression that interact to keep the dominant society in place and in struggle against those who are the most marginalized. In our work over the years we have organized thousands of LGBTQ youth of color who are major leaders in intersectional movement building and social change.

La MaMa LiveTalks


La MaMa LiveTalks are conversations with artists, activists and thought leaders from around the country and around the world who join in discussions about art and life in time of crisis. La MaMa will continue to use emerging technologies to create a new venue for artistic expression that questions how art can function and how we as a society can survive challenging periods of history.

Online Happenings


Presented by La MaMa and CultureHub, La MaMa is exploring ways to respond creatively to a situation that is potentially changing how we gather as a community in our theatres. La MaMa is working with CultureHub to provide online streaming of select productions and events on Howlround Theatre Commons.

Special Event