X Speaks was performed at Ursinus College on April 2, 2015. Along with fellow artists and “X” Collaborator Taji Ra’oof Nahl, Nsenga Knight delivers excerpts from Malcolm X’s final speeches, letters, and interviews, interspersed with visuals and video clips that link the Civil Rights struggles of the 1960s with current protest movements targeting unfair—and sometimes deadly—policing practices in minority communities. The “X” in X Speaks is like a mathematical variable—an open space in which different people can make their voices heard. Here it represents Malcolm X and his legacy, along with that of artist Terry Adkins (Knight’s former teacher, whose work is also included in Under Color of Law) by paying homage to Adkins’s alter-ego Blanche Bruce, a role played by Taji Ra’oof Nahl and many other collaborators throughout his career. Still more voices come from the audience, whose participation is encouraged through reenactment of historical Q&A material, traditional call-and-response feedback, and questions and commentary streamed live via social media.
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