The Omni-American Future Project Presents Its Second Annual Awards Ceremony ‘Straight Ahead: An Omni-American Future, Fighting Bigotry Together’
(New York, NY – November 21, 2022) – Organizers of the Omni-American Future Project — a visionary initiative committed to fighting racism and antisemitism and strengthening unity through music and the power of culture — today announced that it will host its second annual awards ceremony — “Straight Ahead: An Omni-American Future, Fighting Bigotry Together.”
With the current national conversation centered around these issues, this year’s event will reinforce the Project’s mission and vision by bringing Black and Jewish Americans together to celebrate a powerful, shared history and to envision a flourishing future. Convening a host of notables, musicians, community leaders, and thinkers for an unforgettable evening, the ceremony will be held in person for the first time at the historic Minton’s Playhouse/Cecil’s in Harlem on Monday, November 28th, 2022.
Launched in 2020, the Omni-American Future Project was conceived by leaders from the American Sephardi Federation, the Jazz Leadership Project, and the Combat Antisemitism Movement (CAM) with the goal to create a unique platform and event that encourages collaboration and mutual understanding between the Black American and Jewish communities using commonalities — particularly music — as a cultural unifier.
The term “Omni-American” is borrowed from the writings of Albert Murray, the great 20th-century Black American thinker and writer who, together with the legendary novelist Ralph Ellison, extolled America’s pluralistic and diverse culture. By robustly critiquing racial essentialism and strongly emphasizing the power of culture instead of race, Murray’s writings strike at the root of ideologies that foster division, manipulation, and hatred, and ultimately develop into antisemitism and racism.
This year’s awards will hold particular significance amidst recent headlines spotlighting antisemitism and relations between the Jewish and Black American communities, which the Omni-American Project’s leaders view as an opportunity to celebrate a shared struggle as well as shared cultural and spiritual history, and to build on it by forging a path ahead towards a more humane American future for everyone.
“While some have put the focus on divisiveness, we at the Omni-American Future Project are building upon the legacy of cooperation between and among Black Americans and Jewish Americans in jazz and the Civil Rights movement,” said event co-host Greg Thomas.
Event co-host Aryeh Tepper agrees: “By celebrating what connects the jazz bandstand to the Civil Rights movement, the Omni-American Future Project is articulating a vision in which Black Americans and Jewish Americans fight bigotry by aiming high.”
CEO Sacha Roytman Dratwa noted, “Now, more than ever, it is vital that Black and Jewish Americans focus on what unites, rather than divides them. That is what the Omni-American Future Project is all about, and we are proud to be part of this important initiative to foster deeper social solidarity and harmony by nurturing the historic Black-Jewish bonds and taking them to new heights.”
The awards ceremony portion of the evening will recognize two individuals who embody the Omni-American Project’s ideals of intellectual and cultural excellence and vitality. Celebrated Harvard professor, political theorist, and public intellectual Danielle Allen will receive the Albert Murray Award for Omni-American Excellence. Allen’s work advancing civics education and her study of the political-philosophical depths of Ralph Ellison and Martin Luther King Jr. are crucial contributions to strengthening the democratic character of American political and social life. Writer, podcast host of the popular “Conversations with Coleman,” and jazz and hip-hop artist Coleman Hughes will be presented with the Omni-American Young Leaders Award. In all of his roles — as an opinion columnist, host, and artist — Hughes is a staunch champion of free speech, free thought, and open debate.
The evening will also include a special jam session with performances by trumpeter and band leader Itamar Borochov, pianist Miki Yamanaka, bassist Rick Rosato, drummer Charles Goold, and honoree Coleman Hughes on trombone. Additionally, the program will feature appearances by journalist, poet, and commentator Roya Hakakian; economist and podcast host Glenn Loury; author and psychologist Pamela Paresky, and literary executor and trustee of the Albert Murray Trust Lewis P. Jones III.
For more information about The Omni-American Project, please visit — event.omniamerican.org. The event will be livestreamed on this website as well as the following social media outlets — YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter: @Omni_American #OmniAmericanFuture
About the Omni-American Future Project
The Omni-American Future Project is a collaboration of the American Sephardi Federation (ASF), the Combat Antisemitism Movement (CAM), and the Jazz Leadership Project (JLP). Greg Thomas of JLP and Aryeh Tepper of ASF serve as co-directors of the initiative, which emphasizes character and culture, not color. The Project’s variation on the nation’s motto, E Pluribus Unum is, “Out of many, one pursuit of civic and cultural excellence.”