The Rev. Osagyefo Uhuru Sekou's name — pronounced Osagyefo (oh-sah-GEE-fo) Uhuru (ooh-WHO-roo) Sekou (SAY-koo) — might be a tongue-twister, but his message is straightforward.
The noted activist, theologian, author, documentary filmmaker and musician and his band, the Freedom Fighters, play gospel songs that tackle social issues.
Born in St. Louis and raised in the Arkansas Delta, Sekou's musical style blends North Mississippi Hill Country music, Arkansas Delta blues, Memphis soul and Pentecostal steel guitar. With his dreadlocks and booming voice, Sekou cuts a distinctive figure, while his energetic stage presence gives his performances the feeling of a tent revival.
Rev. Sekou & the Freedom Fighters bring their camp meeting to the lawn of the Bessie Smith Cultural Center, 200 E. M.L. King Blvd., Thursday, Sept. 12, when they headline the Levitt Amp concert. The free concert starts at 7 p.m.
Sekou made documentaries and wrote books before releasing albums "The Revolution Has Come" in 2016 and "In Times Like These" in 2017. In March, he released the live album, "When We Fight, We Win."
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch called their single "We Comin'" the "new anthem for the modern Civil Rights movement."
Sekou has written two collection of essays: "Urbansouls: Meditations on Youth, Hip Hop and Religion" and "Gods, Gays and Guns: Essays on Religion and the Future of Democracy."
His documentary short film, "Exiles in the Promised Land," is based on his visit to a refugee camp and lecture in Beirut, Lebanon. It was selected for the Amnesty International Human Rights Film Festival in 2009.
Having studied continental philosophy at the New School, systematic theology at Union Theological Seminary and religion at Harvard University, Sekou has lectured widely, including at Princeton University, Harvard Divinity School, the University of Virginia, University of Paris IV – La Sorbonne and Vanderbilt University. He is a former professor of preaching in the Graduate Theological Urban Studies Program at the Seminary Consortium of Urban Pastoral Education, Chicago, IL.
Sekou has served as either pastor or staff member for five churches, was Fellow-in-Residence at the Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture, Ella Baker Fellow at New York Theological Seminary's Micah Institute and a strategist organizing clergy for economic justice in New York City.
Sekou has been named to Ebony Magazine's Power 100, 2015 NAACP History Makers and on the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts' list of creative thinkers.