The Kennedy Center Honors were incredible! So proud to see an openly gay black man, sitting alongside Paul McCartney, Oprah Winfrey, Merle Haggard and President Obama!
Bill T. Jones was being honored for his incredible contributions to the arts and when the honorees were first announced the President didn’t shy away from the fact that Mr. Jones is gay and HIV positive. His remarks are below, but let him inspire you in the video.
Some highlights on the honorees:
President Obama has said about Bill T. Jones….
“If Jerry Herman wanted to make people hum, Bill T. Jones wanted to open their eyes and make them move. The youngest of 12 children, Bill’s parents were migrant workers -– “poorer than poor” -– who made a living picking fruits and vegetables up and down the East Coast. Early on, Bill struggled to find his identity in a segregated world where he often felt like he didn’t belong.
Then he began to dance. Bill likes to say that a good dancer has, “heart, guts, strength, intelligence and personality” -– and he’s been blessed with plenty of each. As the co-founder of the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, Bill has earned widespread acclaim and artistic success in the hyper-competitive world of modern dance -– all while battling poverty, homophobia, and racism.
His unique performances have always been provocative –- challenging audiences to confront important issues in a way that is at once captivating, agitating and extremely personal. To date, he’s created over 140 works on subjects ranging from terminal illness to Abraham Lincoln -– securing his place as one of the most decorated and controversial choreographers of our time.
And through it all, Bill has never compromised his sense of purpose, or lost his ability to inspire others to greater heights. “I’m not afraid to stand up,” Bill once said. “I’m not afraid to be looked at — making my art is a way of saying to people –- gay people, HIV-positive people -– that life is worth it.” And for that, we are forever grateful. Bill T. Jones.”
Read President Obama’s full remarks on the honorees.
Read the Bill T. Jones Blog about the historic night.
Great article in the New York Times about Bill T. Jones, his openness about his HIV status and “Spring Awakening” on Broadway - It Takes a Rule Breaker to Create Dance for Rebels, New York Times, June 7, 2007