Bioethics News

Unseen: Kalief Browder & Solitary Confinement

Judah Adashi, DMA is a composer and professor at the Johns Hopkins Peabody Institute. He was awarded funding by the JHU Exploration of Practical Ethics Program for a project entitled Unseen: Kalief Browder and Solitary Confinement in America. This project will grapple with the ethical responsibility of artists operating within their sociopolitical context, as well as the ethics of solitary confinement and mass incarceration of African Americans.


Unseen is inspired by the story of Kalief Browder, a 16-year old black youth who was held in prison for three years without trial, two of them in solitary confinement. Browder committed suicide two years after his release, all the while struggling with psychological trauma. The project will result in a musical composition, part of which will be shared at the Practical Ethics Symposium in January 2017.


Unseen dovetails with Professor Adashi’s composition, Rise, a collaboration with poet Tameka Cage Conley, PhD, bearing witness to America’s civil rights journey from Selma to Ferguson. Rise debuted on April 19, 2015, the same day that Freddie Gray died while in Baltimore Police custody. Gray’s death, ruled a homicide, sparked the Baltimore Uprising.




Professor Adashi revisited Rise with the second full performance of the piece held on April 19, 2016 at Mt. Vernon Place United Methodist Church, to honor Freddie Gray. The evening included a panel conversation on art and activism in Baltimore, along with the premiere of a new piece by Professor Adashi, The Beauty of the Protest, performed by cellist and Peabody alumna Lavena Johanson.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.