Since 2019, San Jose State University’s renowned Institute for the Study of Sport, Society and Social Change and The Wall of Song Project have been inviting athletes, fans, students and community supporters to sing Nina Simone’s FEELING GOOD as an anthem of solidarity and a call to action for women’s sport and a more equitable, racially just community. At heart a collaborative project, hundreds have already added their voices to our growing, inclusive video chorus.
This ongoing collaborative art, film, performance, and sports stadia singing project of FEELING GOOD acknowledges, celebrates, and builds upon the deep legacy of Black athlete activism at SJSU. Through it, we explore the ways in which art and collective singing rituals can, despite our social realities, embolden our voices to support women’s athletics and work towards a more inclusive community—particularly for Black and Indigenous women, girls, and non-binary athletes of color, who live at the intersection of racial injustice and gender inequity.
While there has been some progress since the enactment of Title IX, we continue to see disparities in access, pay equity, working conditions, leadership and coaching opportunities, sports coverage (and the largely invisible work of athlete activists in women’s sports). We also have noticed the well documented ways in which collective singing can help to cultivate joint perspectives, charge our courage, and touch each other at a distance (as we have especially seen during this time of physical distancing.)
Simone sang about feeling good—“a bold world, a new world”—in 1965. The invitation is to be emboldened by Simone’s courageous and radical example in the midst of our own longing and need for a more equitable and racially just kind of future.
The Wall of Song project is participatory and interactive. The first step invites athletes, fans, students and community supporters to sing Nina Simone’s “Feeling Good” online at https://wallofsongproject.com/sing-2/. It only takes a few minutes and you don’t need to be able to sing–it’s not a solo!
San José State University, is a unique and special place in which to launch and grow FEELING GOOD due to its legacy in athlete activism as the birthplace of the Olympic Project for Human Rights, a movement led by Dr. Harry Edwards and Ken Noel that culminated in the iconic protest of 1968 Olympic medalists Tommie Smith and John Carlos.
This collaborative art, athlete activism, and civic singing platform is designed to build inclusive community over time by drawing upon the ways in which song can help cultivate well-being and embolden our voices to work towards positive social change. We invite you to donate to The Institute for the Study of Sport, Society, and Social Change programs and services that build on the legacy of social change, particularly as it pertains to the equity of women and girls in sport. We are developing an action toolkit and a series of calls-to-action with our collaborators and affinity groups.
How might we collaborate?
Here are some potential ways we might consider collaborating and combining the reach, legacy and unique potential of our platforms, as works best for you (and we are open to other ideas!):
- Join us in inviting athletes, fans, and community supporters to share their voices and sing Nina Simone’s “Feeling Good” online at https://wallofsongproject.com.
- Partner with us on a PR and social media campaign. Our goal is to amplify our voices in solidarity across our respective communities. Follow us @sjsuwordstoaction and @wallofsongproject #SJSUWordsToAction #LeadHerForward!
- Collaborate as a project partner, sponsor, or co-host an event with us! We’d value an opportunity to discuss the potential of FEELING GOOD as part of a live or virtual sporting event. See this highlight reel and introductory video from our 2.24.20 event launch.
In song and solidarity,
Akilah Carter-Francique & Mel Day