“Dead King Mother”

Fire in the sky
no water in sight–
all I want is my man,
but he can’t be here passed tonight.


On the evening April 4th, 1968, upon hearing of the news of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Davu’s great-uncle, Clarence C. Underwood III, stood before family on Minneapolis’ north side and announced that he was going to kill the first white man that he saw–and he did. When encountered by the police he raised his hands a remarked, “shoot me, they killed my king.”

The last time Davu saw Clarence was at the funeral of Arlene M. Underwood, the wife and mother of three he had left behind once he was committed to prison for murder. Reflecting on his sacrifice during the eulogy, Clarence remarked, “those were different times for our people.”

The event is near-forgotten as Twin Cities and U.S. history. “Dead King Mother,” a blues for female vocalist and ensemble, attempts to write the event into North Minneapolis and United States Civil Rights history and to provide an occasion for the Twin Cities community to remember and reflect. 

Schedule for Dead King Mother

Lowertown Listening Sessions at Studio Z: Tuesday, January 30th, 6pm.  Studio Z,  275 East Fourth Street Suite 200, Saint Paul, MN  •  (651) 755-1600

Premiere at Studio Z: Friday and Saturday, February 23rd and 24th, 7:30pm.  Studio Z,  275 East Fourth Street Suite 200, Saint Paul, MN  •  (651) 755-1600

50th Anniversary Event at Capri Theater: Wednesday April, 4th, 2018. Capri Theater, 2027 W Broadway Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55411 •  (612) 643-2024


Davu Seru, in partnership with Zeitgeist, is a fiscal year 2017 recipient of a Cultural Community Partnership Grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board. This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation by the Minnesota State Legislature; and by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

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