Magnolia March: Artists Take a Peaceful Stand Against Violence

Magnolia March Image by Josh Coen
Magnolia March Image by Josh Coen
Boston Marathon Memorial Image by Wang Lei/Xinhua /Landov
Boston Marathon Memorial Image by Wang Lei/Xinhua /Landov

With the latest tragedy in Boston leaving the finish line of the Boston Marathon a chaotic horrific mess on Monday, we’re continuously reminded all is not right with our world. 24-hour news cycles and social media like Facebook and Twitter quickly hypnotize us with gruesome details and images, countless sad stories of loved ones injured or lost shadowed by prolific heroism.

As Fred Rogers once said, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ ” Mr. Rogers was right. There are always people rushing to help for the greater good of another, and his words bring comfort to many of us this week.

Story continues below.

The horrific Sandy Hook Elementary shooting where twenty children and six school staff were gunned down weeks before Christmas still lingers heavy on our minds. When New York City-based tap dancer and percussionist Max Pollak learned his colleague, professional jazz saxophonist Jimmy Greene, had lost his daughter Ana-Vasquez-Greene in the shooting rampage, Pollak, a father of a young daughter himself, felt compelled to do something.

In the weeks following the shootings Pollak wrote on his Facebook page, “I think all NY musicians, dancers, artists of other disciplines and all supporters should play a New Orleans funeral procession from New York all the way to the White House in Washington. Something MUST be done!”

Soon after, an outpouring of support came from artists, musicians and dancers from New York and all over the world offering a desire to participate. The reality of Pollak’s Facebook post quickly came to life, and the New Orleans second line funeral processional he envisioned was given a name: Magnolia March. The event will take place in New York City and locations simultaneously all over the world on April 27 at 1 pm EST.

From the press release:

Magnolia March Image by Josh Coen
Magnolia March Image by Josh Coen

Magnolia March will take a peaceful stand against violence in our communities. Artists and families will simultaneously parade in the streets of countless cities and towns across the globe in memory of victims of violence. Led by some of the greatest musicians, dancers and artists from all over the world, Magnolia March a traditional New Orleans – style funeral processional will organize on April 27th, 2013 in big cities and small towns throughout the US, Canada, Asia, Australia and Europe demonstrating peaceful solidarity against acts of violence. Too often we are witnesses to violent acts that cost lives, and that have deep impact on us, and our loved ones. Too often excessive violence is shown repeatedly through our media, and too often we are silent in fear, dismay and helplessness.

Pollak intends Magnolia March to send a message across the globe where “change in a violent society can only come from within. By using art to communicate our fears and joys rather than arming ourselves with lethal weapons we as artists provide an invaluable outlet that can heal the mind, body and spirit while creating a bridge between profoundly different cultures.”

Groups planning to participate in the NYC parade include the Granny Peace Brigade, members from the Mayors Against Illegal Guns also known as Demand Action, and members of the Harry Connick Jr. Big Band. Mr. Greene has been invited to attend as well as Wynton Marsalis among others, but have yet to confirm their participation.


People who wish to participate in the NYC Magnolia March may gather at Lincoln Center Plaza located near Broadway and West 64th Street in Manhattan at 1 pm EST on Saturday, April 27. Volunteers are also greatly needed to assist with crowds along the parade route. Those who wish to organize a march in a city other than NYC may visit the Magnolia March website or Max Pollak’s YouTube channel for further information. Pollak encourages other cities to live stream events as they unfold as well as submit photos to the website.