Sen. Gillibrand Keynoting Brooklyn Conference With Radical Artists

Taxpayer-funded group teaches kids to become 'radical agents of social change' with Black Panther Party tactics

US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand /
US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand / Getty Images
• October 17, 2017 5:00 am


Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D., N.Y.) is keynoting a conference in Brooklyn featuring several controversial artists, including a group that teaches kids how to become "radical agents of social and political change" using principles of the Black Panther Party.

Gillibrand will speak Friday at the Brooklyn Museum for the conference, which will explore the "intersections of art and social justice." The Brooklyn Conference received "generous support" from liberal billionaire George Soros's Open Society Foundations.

Other speakers include anti-Israel activist Linda Sarsour, two cofounders of Black Lives Matter, and artist Sam Durant, whose works include paintings that read "200 years of white lies" and "You are on Indian land show some respect."

The conference will feature two representatives from the Laundromat Project, a community art group that has received $145,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts since 2012.

Kemi Ilesanmi, executive director of the project, will speak on Friday, and the group will lead a workshop on Saturday. The Women's March is also hosting a workshop, entitled, "The Resistance Revival."

The Laundromat Project teaches kids principles of the Marxist revolutionary group the Black Panther Party at "The Black School."

"Inspired by community run schools founded throughout Black American history, The Black School: Harlem is an experimental art school that combines art making workshops with presentations and group discussions on radical Black political theory," the group states on its website. "During The LP residency, The Black School: Harlem will take up residence in existing Harlem-based high schools and youth organizations. Visiting artists will teach art making techniques such as creative writing, screen printing, collage, photography, and other forms of image making."

"Building on the principles of the Freedom Schools of the Civil Rights movement and The Black Panther Party's Liberation Schools during the Black Power movement, The Black School will use a socially engaged proactive practice to educate Black/PoC students and allies on how to become radical agents of social and political change," the Laundromat Project states.

Joseph Cuillier, a Harlem-based "socially engaged artist," founded the Black School.

The landing page for Cuillier's website is a poem he wrote that begins with a line stolen from Kanye West: "George Bush doesn't care about black people."

The poem, "The Sensitive Boy Slumber Party Manifesto," is about "inciting subversion of the state."

Other lines from Cuillier's poem include, "the white army killed another unarmed black man today," "Evangelical Christians believe empathy is too left wing," and "we are on the other side of the American flag."

"Now we're building freedom schools in the ghetto and teaching radicals," Cuillier writes. "The philosophy of the school in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next."

The Laundromat Project receives funding from the National Endowment for the Arts. The group most recently received $40,000 this year for its Create Change artist development program. The group has received grants every year since 2012 for its flagship art residency program, where artists display "socially relevant" work in coin-operated Laundromats in and around Harlem.

The National Endowment for the Arts also listed the Laundromat Project as a featured participant for its "In Pursuit of the Creative Life" event at the Kennedy Center last year.

Sen. Gillibrand's office did not immediately return request for comment.

Published under: Kirsten Gillibrand