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Wichita Music Project Aims To Denounce Racism And Inspire Black Men

Wichita State University professor Kevin Harrison has put together a music video that denounces racism and hopes to inspire African American men.

"The Breathe Project" includes the talents of 51 Black men in Wichita, ranging from age 10 to 75, proclaiming "all men are free to breathe."

Harrison wrote the song after the death of George Floyd in Minnesota. He says the project aims to take control of mainstream narratives about Black men.

"Not only do we deserve the right to breathe but we deserve for our excellence to be showcased," Harrison said. "There are so many stereotypes of African American males that are incorrect. ... I wanted to use this as a conversation starter with an artistic expression of showing all of the reasons why Black men should breathe."

Harrison says "The Breathe Project" will use art, social science research and community engagement to more authentically depict the Black male experience.

Credit Bray Films
Dr. Kevin Harrison practices a song with other men from Wichita involved in "The Breathe Project."

A calendar will be released in October to highlight the impact of Black men excelling in Wichita, both past and present.

"We want to show young Black men that the sky is the limit. You don’t have to settle," Harrison said. "You definitely don’t have to settle for whatever the stereotypes say you have to settle for."

The live stream begins on YouTube at 8:15 p.m. Saturday and the video will debut at 8:46 p.m. to represent George Floyd’s last 8 minutes and 46 seconds of life.

"There’s a wide array of beliefs and perspectives and careers and walks of life represented in the video," Harrison said. “We don’t have to be the same to recognize that we have a similar struggle and we have to all work together to overcome that similar struggle."

Carla Eckels is Director of Cultural Diversity for News and Engagement at KMUW. She produces and hosts the R&B and gospel show Soulsations and brings stories of race and culture to The Range with the monthly segment In the Mix. Carla was inducted into The Kansas African American Museum's Trailblazers Hall of Fame in 2020 for her work in broadcast/journalism.