The Seven Last Words of the Unarmed

The Seven Last Words of the Unarmed is a choral composition by Atlanta-based composer Joel Thompson.

The piece contains seven movements, each of which quotes the last words of an unarmed black man before he was killed. Thompson has said that in composing the piece, he “used the liturgical format in Haydn’s Seven Last Words of Christ in an effort to humanize these men and to reckon with my identity as a black man in this country in relation to this specific scourge of police brutality.” It was premiered in 2016 by the University of Michigan Men’s Glee Club under the direction of Eugene Rogers, and they are the performers in the video above.


  1. “Why do you have your guns out?” – Kenneth Chamberlain, 66
  2. “What are you following me for?” – Trayvon Martin, 16
  3. “Mom, I’m going to college.” – Amadou Diallo, 23
  4. “I don’t have a gun. Stop shooting.” – Michael Brown, 18
  5. “You shot me! You shot me!” – Oscar Grant, 22
  6. “It’s not real.” – John Crawford, 22
  7. “I can’t breathe.” – Eric Garner, 43


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