No Cowards In Our Band

July 4th, 2022 @ 4:30 PM
Rebroadcast on WCNY and Livestreamed on

No Cowards in Our Band

Created and written by Anthony B. Knight

Musical Direction and selections by Wayne Sanders

It is our great pleasure to announce that our groundbreaking film No Cowards in our Band will be re-broadcast on July 4, 2022, at 4:30 pm on WCNY and livestreamed on

The work reveals facts about Frederick Douglass’ young life as a slave, his eventual freedom, and his friendship with President Abraham Lincoln. Douglass’ spoke on many occasions in the CNY and WNY Region.

The production’s opening scene takes place in Fayette Park, where Douglass gave one of his first speeches to a Syracuse audience in 1843. This area of Syracuse retains many links with the city’s abolitionist movement and the Underground Railroad and reminds us of the importance of our current designation as a sanctuary city.

Historical Fayette Park
At the time, abolitionists were unable to secure a public building for his speech, so he instead began speaking at the southeast corner of Fayette Park, across from the Hamilton White House, with an audience of 5 people that grew to 500.
Want to learn more about what filming at this location meant to our artists? Check back soon for a new Coffee with the Artists segment in Fayette Park! No Cowards in our Band is the work of Anthony B. Knight, with Wayne Sanders as music director. It was written to commemorate the sesquicentennial of the American Civil War (waged from 1861 to 1865). It has been performed live, but never televised until the partnership between WCNY and Syracuse. It was first broadcast on July 3, 2021. It takes its title from a line in the call and response spiritual “Great Day” and uses that and other spirituals to portray Douglass reflecting on his life. The story follows Douglass and, according to composer Anthony Knight “provides insight […] into the souls of Black people of his time.”

Performance Information

Run Time

Approximately 1 hr 25 mins


Performed in English


Rebroadcast on WCNY July 4th, 2022 at 4:30pm and simultaneously livestreamed at


Cast and Music

Anthony Knight

Anthony Knight, Composer and Organist

Anthony Knight is a composer and organist with a rich background working with museums, historical sights, and historical societies. He is Founder, President, and CEO of the Baton Foundation, which exists to strengthen Black boys and adolescents emotionally, culturally, and intellectually. This work reflects on the 19th century, which Knight cites as influential for the development of history and lives of 21st century people.

Masud Olufani

Masud Olufani, Frederick Douglass

Atlanta based actor, multimedia artist, and writer Masud Olufani portrays Frederick Douglass. Masud has exhibited his work in group and solo shows nationally and internationally. He is the 2021-22 inaugural Visual Arts Fellow at Emory University in Atlanta, GA, and is the recipient of many fellowships and grants. Masud is the creative director of Blocked: A Global Healing Project, a multimedia performance created to memorialize spaces marked by the trauma of the trans-Atlantic slave trade and is the co-host of Undaunted, a new podcast series that centers the work of social change makers.

Kearstin Piper Brown

Kearstin Piper Brown, Soprano

World Theatre Award winning and Drama Desk Award nominee Kearstin Piper Brown has delighted audiences in lead roles with companies including San Francisco Opera, Lincoln Center Theater, New Orleans Opera, Opera Colorado, Virginia Opera, Opera Memphis, Cape Town Opera, Dayton Opera, and Syracuse Opera. You can watch her this fall on PBS’s Great Performances in the opera Intimate Apparel.

Chauncey Packer

Chauncey Packer, Tenor

Since filming in Syracuse, has brilliantly performed in Fire Shut Up in My Bones at both at the Metropolitan Opera and the Lyric Opera of Chicago. His 2021-2022 season also includes Justice Antonin Scalia in Scalia/Ginsburg (Chautauqua Opera), Robbins/Crabman in Porgy and Bess (Metropolitan Opera), among many other incredible projects.

Gregory Sheppard

Gregory Sheppard, Bass

A special member of our Syracuse Opera family, and a Syracuse favorite who tirelessly shares and promotes his gift and love for the art form everywhere he goes, including appearances across the United States and Europe.


Wayne Sanders, Music Arrangement

Mr. Wayne Sanders, Co-Founder and Music Director of New York City’s Opera Ebony, is an unseen presence, other than his hands at the piano, in the film. He is a coach, accompanist, and consultant whose work has taken him from the Houston Grand Opera to international opera houses.


A Gospel Quartet of Syracuse artists

Sandra Dee Miller, Sonya Hines, Marcia Hagan, and Rev. Phil Turner.

Creative Team

Doug Moreau

Doug Moreau, Senior Director of Television for WCNY

Doug Moreau began at WCNY in 2006 as a Producer/Director. Before WCNY, Douglas was a 13-year Producer/Director for WTVI, the PBS station for Charlotte, NC. He is a 25-year veteran freelance director and has directed games and events for Clemson Football, The Charlotte Hornets, The Greensboro Coliseum and currently freelance directs for the Utica Comets and Utica University Hockey.


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Special Thanks

The Syracuse Opera family wants to extend a very special thanks and gratitude to Mitch Gelman, President and CEO of WCNY for his support of this project.

This collaborative film presentation was made possible by a grant from Empire State Development and support from the Innovation Group of CNY Arts, LLC and the Empire State Development Film Office.