Dear Potential Singer,
As former college athletes, we have noticed that we do not sing much together for women’s sports. And 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), gender-based violence and a toxic culture of abuse. These systemic barriers and conditions especially reverberate for Black, women and non-binary athletes of color, who live at this intersection of racial injustice and gender inequity.
We are inviting athletes, sports fans, students, and community allies to join us in a massed singing of Nina Simone’s FEELING GOOD as a call-to-action, an anthem of solidarity for women’s athletics and a more racially just, equitable community. Help us build a growing video chorus—a literal “wall of song”—as part of a generative series of video installations, collaborative sports stadia performances, and civic singing interventions.
It is important to remember that Simone sang about feeling good—“a bold world, a new world”—in 1965, at a time of oppressive and violent systemic racism and personal struggles with domestic abuse and bi-polar depression. The invitation is to be emboldened by Simone’s courageous and radical example in the midst of our own “unprecedented moment” and longing and need for a different kind of future.
We launched FEELING GOOD on February 2020, as part of a San Jose State University (SJSU) women’s basketball game halftime sports stadium singing performance in concert with National Girls & Women in Sports Day in collaboration with a number of campus and community partners and hundreds of participants. Our thanks to all who added their voices and joined us and to all of our collaborators who have made this project possible. See this one-minute highlight reel to learn more about our inaugural event.
Our project acknowledges, celebrates, and builds upon the deep legacy of Black athlete activism at SJSU, the birthplace of the Olympic Project for Human Rights (OPHR). This was a movement founded by Dr. Harry Edwards and Ken Noel that culminated in the iconic protest of 1968 Olympic medalists Tommie Smith and John Carlos. We are continuing to see the impact of Carlos’ and Smith’s Olympic gesture with the WNBA, NBA and other athletes and supporters taking actions in solidarity with Black Lives Matter. We are also seeing the impact of BIPOC and LGBTQ athletes in women’s sport—from the groundbreaking work of 2x Olympic gold medalist Wyomia Tyus’ in the ‘68 Olympics, Volleyball’s Flo Hyman, Tennis’ Althea Gibson, Billie Jean King, Serena and Venus Williams, WNBA’s Maya Moore, Soccer’s Abby Wambach and Megan Rapinoe and others to the amazing work of our student athletes today.
Share your voice and join our cause (LINK to singing area), as we explore the ways in which art, sport, and collective singing rituals can help with the work towards a more equitable and inclusive community both on and off the playing field.
Yours in song and solidarity,
Executive Director, Institute for the Study of Sport, Society and Social Change
Associate Professor, Department of African American Studies, San José State University, CA
Former collegiate athlete in track and field at the University of Houston
Artist, filmmaker, co-founder of The Wall of Song Project (LINK TO ABOUT AREA)
Interdisciplinary Art Lecturer, Department of Art & Art History, San José State University, CA
Former collegiate water polo goalie at Queen’s University, Canada
T: (510) 861-5742 E: Melissa.email@example.com