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We Hold These Truths We Hold These Truths

Composed by Tamar-kali, directed by dream hampton

Now streaming

A powerful new film featuring seminal poetic works from three influential Black poets.

We Hold These Truths is a musical and cinematic triptych featuring composer Tamar-kali's setting of three iconic poems from the turn of the 20th century through the Harlem Renaissance: Paul Laurence Dunbar's "We Wear the Mask," Langston Hughes's "I, Too" and Claude McKay's "If We Must Die."

A striking new film by dream hampton (director of the Peabody-winning and Emmy-nominated film Surviving R. Kelly), We Hold These Truths stands as both an affirmation of wonder and joy, as well as a testimony to the vigil kept for the full realization of liberty.

The voices of these poets, raised in the past, echo through generations—from colored, to negro, to Black and African American—in a modern-day landscape where the watch continues.

"Tamar-kali is a second-generation musician whose music truly defies boundaries—and really traverses the spectrum from her unique alt-rock more orchestral pieces"

Jamie GreenThe Roarbots


dream hampton
Anthony Parnther
Ashley Faatoalia
Cedric Berry
Curtis Stewart
Vocal Ensemble
Selah Gospel Choir
Spoken Word Artist
Samuel Getachew

A Note from Composer Tamar-kali

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A Note from Composer Tamar-kali

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” —United States Declaration of Independence, 1776

I represent the fourth generation in my family born free of chattel slavery here in America. Though my roots predate the formation of the United States as a nation; my ancestors were not included in the founders' vision. Their Declaration of Independence established self-realization for a small percentage of their fellow former colonists.

They had the audacity to dream big and project lofty ideals that they themselves were unable to live by. They created a government embodied in the Constitution that provided the framework for a truly equitable nation. Those who came before me, who had yet to taste freedom, held fast to this promise.

This piece is written at a moment in the 21st century where a segment of our nation bristles at the thought of progress and there continues to be a debate about how far we have come and whether or not change is being pushed upon the populace too hastily.

I thought of the rich legacy upon which I stand and felt moved to provide context for those unfamiliar. The first wave of the Civil Rights Movement in America dates back to the late 1800s. The thought that more than a century later “these truths” are still unattainable for a portion of our population seems unconscionable.

I hold these works from Paul Laurence Dunbar, Langston Hughes and Claude McKay to be self-evident in their distinguished provenance and continued relevance that this nation has fallen short of protecting for all its citizens Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

We are long overdue to see “these truths” made manifest.

This project is generously supported by a consortium of donors to LA Opera's Contemporary Opera Initiative, chaired by Nancy and Barry Sanders.

Artwork for We Hold These Truths
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