About JfJ

jfj-logo-wordsThe Jazz for Justice Project is an initiative founded in 2006 by UT professor, Dr. Rosalind Hackett, to raise funds, awareness, and support for the power of music and the arts in the post-conflict reconstruction of northern Uganda. Since then, the organization has grown into an ensemble of faculty, students, musicians, and religious and community activists, both here and in Uganda, that are united by two commitments:

  1. To help end the suffering in war-affected northern Uganda, and
  2. To explore music and the arts as a tool of peace building and post-conflict reconstruction.

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Why Northern Uganda?

From 1986 until late 2006, northern Uganda was the site of a brutal civil war waged between the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), led by Joseph Kony, and the Ugandan government. Both the Ugandan army and LRA are responsible for violence, unrest, and human rights abuses. Since the early 1990s, the LRA has abducted women and children, pillaging villages and homes, and stealing anyone and anything beneficial in ensuring the success of the rebel movement. According to one study, 38,000 children and 37,000 adults have been abducted in the course of the conflict. As a result of the war and ensuing trauma, northern Uganda has the highest rate of depression in the world. In 2008, peace talks between the government of Uganda and the LRA failed. The leaders of the LRA, who are currently wanted by the International Criminal Court, remain at-large, terrorizing civilians in neighboring Congo, southern Sudan, and the Central African Republic.

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Why Creativity?

JfJ believes that creativity is a compelling way to achieve effective activism and social awareness, as well as to bring healing and peace to communities and individuals affected by trauma and conflict. Through this philosophy, we have witnessed the power that music and the arts have in transforming lives and sharing messages both in the US and in Uganda. Since late 2006, JfJ has raised over $20,000USD to benefit Ugandan partners such as the Northern Uganda Girls Education Network, Child Reach Africa, and local Acholi musicians.

Furthermore, the Jazz for Justice Project believes in:

  • Sustainable peace and development, and educational and psycho-social support, for young people whose lives and futures have been disrupted by the war
  • Realizing the potential of engaged entertainment in the Knoxville community
  • Creating dialogue and cultural exchange between musicians in the Knoxville and Gulu communities
  • Greater acceptance of the role of music in rehabilitating youth traumatized by war and displacement

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Why Jazz?

  • Jazz is world music with African roots
  • Jazz is associated with freedom – personal and sonal
  • Jazz is democratic- you have to listen and work together as a team
  • Jazz is centered on improvisation – a creative concept for activists
  • Jazz is intimate and sustained
  • Jazz builds relationships between musicians and the audience

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What We Do

The Jazz for Justice Project does not limit itself to jazz alone, however. Although the organization began as a jazz benefit concert to raise money for girls’ education in northern Uganda, it has grown into many creative directions in the last three years. These endeavors include:

  • Organizing awareness and fundraising concerts, workshops, and conferences
  • Building partnerships with Ugandan organizations and artists
  • Supporting efforts to build peace and reconciliation through jazz, hip-hop, rap, breakdance, art, traditional dance and music, drama, poetry, radio, and film
  • Giving talks on northern Uganda on our campus and in our community
  • Creating CDs, T-shirts, and books to benefit our partners
  • Screening films such as War Dance and Uganda Rising
  • Lobbying our representatives in DC and Nashville
  • Going to Uganda to build relationships with the people there and better understand their voices and their needs
  • Creating linkages between students and faculty at the University of Tennessee and organizations in Uganda

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What We Have Achieved

  • 3 jazz concerts that have attracted crowds of over 500 people each and have raised over $15,000 total (September 2006, November 2007, October 2008)
  • 4 visits to Uganda (2004, 2007, 2008-9)
  • a compilation CD of jazz artists (launched February 2007)
  • a book on creative approaches to peace building in northern Uganda (to be printed late 2009, contact Lindsay McClain at lindsaymcclain@knoxjazzforjustice.org for more information)
  • an international conference on creative approaches to peace building (October 2008)
  • education and trauma workshop with University of Tennessee professors and NUGEN executives (October 2008)
  • 2 meetings on international service-learning at the University of Tennessee (October 2008, May 2009)
  • radio and tv appearances and features in magazines and newspapers
  • lobbying in DC (October 2006 and February 2008) and Nashville (August 2007)
  • talks at Maryville College (October 2006), Valley Unitarian-Universalist Church, Knoxville, Webb School, Knoxville (April 2007)
  • GuluWalk (October 2006)
  • Footprinting for Northern Uganda (October 2005)
  • Invited Ugandan speakers to Knoxville to discuss child soldiers in Africa

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Visits to Uganda


The December 2008 Uganda teamJfJ founder Rosalind Hackett first visited Uganda in 2004 to attend a conference in Jinja, Uganda. During this visit, she traveled to northern Uganda and witnessed firsthand the conflict and marginalization taking place there. In July 2007, she returned with musician Joshua Russell and two undergraduate students, Lindsay McClain and Erin Bernstein. McClain and Bernstein returned the following January with two other students, Holly Dagnan and Ben Miller, for a semester of independent study. The four interned at the Parliament of Uganda and later lived in Gulu, where they learned of reconstruction and reconciliation efforts. In December, a team of 11 undergraduates from the University of Tennessee traveled to Uganda on a site-visit to establish further partnerships for their university and JfJ. Three of these students, Dustyn Winder, Lindsay McClain and Erin Cagney, returned in June 2009. For information on upcoming visits to Uganda, please contact contact@knoxjazzforjustice.org.