The Music of Resistance, a tribute to Llwelyn J. Soniat

Premiering online in December, this multidisciplinary conversation explores the life and legacy of local civil rights leader Llewelyn J. Soniat, who is the subject of a 2020 portrait by Brandan ‘Bmike’ Odums currently on view at the museum. This program highlights Soniat’s activism, from his work in the 1960s with youth leadership groups desegregating Canal Street to his later interests in the phenomenon of police brutality in the New Orleans community. Bringing special attention to archive collections as instruments for social justice, the guest speakers for this event include Amistad Research Center archivist Felicia Render, ethnomusicologist Matt Sakakeeny, and historian Raphael Cassimere Jr.

During his time as a camera man at NOATV, Bmike met Llewelyn Soniat, a longtime civil rights and community activist, when Soniat was a special guest. Soniat served from 1958 to 1994 with the NAACP New Orleans Branch Executive Committee and Youth Council and spoke out about local police brutality toward the African American community. “Lleweyln Soniat was one of those elders who influenced me deeply,” says Bmike. “NOATV was my real life civics class at a time when I was searching for answers around my identity. This series of paintings pays tribute to those who helped me navigate that moment, as I listened behind the camera standing ten feet away.” The Llewelyn Soniat papers are held by the Amistad Research Center located in Tilton Hall on the campus of Tulane University.

Brandan “Bmike” Odums
Llewelyn Soniat (1926-2014), 2020
Acrylic and spray paint on canvas
Courtesy of Studio BE, New Orleans