Kwanzaa edition: Fall 2015 wrap-up and events

Kwanzaa_picThanks, everyone for a great semester and the enthusiasm and effort you brought to the class! As you may remember, our last guest speaker was Dr. Segun Shabaka who discussed Kawaida theory, Kwanzaa and its origins, and how the tradition has been kept alive in Brooklyn. As promised, here are a few resources and info on the event his organization puts on in Brooklyn and a few other selected ones. It’s important to note that all of these are deliberately family friendly, so younger siblings and relatives, your own children, or other children in your neighborhood/building will definitely be welcome and probably have a lot of fun.
First, there’s a good documentary film that covers most of the questions that I recommend called The Black Candle by Molefe K. Asante Jr., who’s an Associate Professor of English at Morgan State University. It’s up on YouTube (embedded below) and available on popular streaming online video services.

For more background, I’ll link the Official Kwanzaa website, which is basically a super-condensed version of Dr. Maulana Karenga’s book Kwanzaa: A Celebration of Family, Community, and Culture. Karenga’s book is meant to be a how-to and explanatory guide to the celebration. It’s deliberately accessible and readable for a general audience. For a scholarly overview of Kwanzaa’s spread and evolution, look to Keith Mayes’s Kwanzaa: Black Power and the Making of the African American Holiday Tradition. Finally, Scot Brown’s Fighting for US is a comprehensive historical overview of the US organization, which popularized the celebration. For a quicker critical overview, a reminder that Floyd Hayes and Judson Jeffries’s essay “US Does Not Stand for United Slaves!”, a 14-page PDF is on the Readings page.
Kwanzaa Events
This is far from a comprehensive list, but here are a few select ones that are worth going to, generally community based, and should be fun and informational.
There are several competing events on Sunday, December 27, but here are two to pay attention to. First, is the one at the Dr. John Henrik Clarke House in Harlem. Details at their Facebook event page and see the announcement below:
The event mentioned in class by Dr. Shabaka is in also on Sunday the 27th in Brooklyn at JHS 258 from 2-6 PM (program starts at 3) and has Dr. Maulana Karenga as keynote speaker (via Skype this year, I’m told) along with the Universal African Drum and Dance Ensemble, a jazz performance by Donald Smith, and other cultural happenings. Details are at their Facebook event page. (There are several other area events that pop up for me under “related events” on their page.)
Finally, on Thursday December 31st (yes, New Year’s Eve) from 4-10 PM, there’s a celebration at the historic National Black Theater in Harlem, honoring two important scholars–Dr. Ben and Dr. John Henrik Clarke–whose birthdays were December 31 and January 1, respectively. It’s from 4-10 PM and there’s an entrance fee (it’s partially a fundraiser), but I’ve been assured that students will be allowed to pay what they can. Details are at the event’s Facebook page and if you email me ahead of time, I’ll make sure they put you on their list for entry.


12/21: Final exam and important final paper update

Photo via
The big news for this week is, of course, that the final is on Monday the 21st from 6:20-8:20 in the usual classroom. Don’t miss it!!. It’s logistically difficult to do make-ups and that may not happen before the grade deadline. Note also that I won’t offer a make-up except for very good reasons. Make sure to check Hunter’s final exam schedule (PDF) and your other classes to make sure there are no conflicts!
You might want to take a look at my essay “Zen and the Art of Finals” (PDF on the Resources page) that offers an approach for preparing/taking exams — primarily my own essay exams — but might be more broadly helpful. Below are screenshots from the brainstorm session of some of the themes covered this semester. Use these to focus your preparation.
Also note that I’ve extended the deadline for final papers to Tuesday December 22nd via e-mail. I’ll send you a receipt to let you know I received it. In case you’ve lost the assignment sheet, head on over to the Assignments page to refresh your memory.
Also, as a quick reminder and public service announcement, back up your work! Do it now! Every semester at least one student has a disaster story of a lost USB drive or crashed computer that took all of their data with them. You should have (at minimum) 2 copies of all important things that you’re working on. If the main one gets lost, at least you’re not re-creating it from scratch. At this point, online storage is cheap enough (read: free) that you can at least have a backup of your documents folder, which for most of us is the most important thing and doesn’t take up much space. I’ll point you to Lifehacker’s handy guide, which doesn’t include Google Drive, as the latter appeared after their roundup.
If you’re a little rusty on formatting, (don’t worry, most of us are), then check out Purdue University’s Online Writing Lab (OWL), which is your resource for all things citation-related and can help you deal with the intricacies of the “big three” formats: Chicago Style, APA, MLA.
I also have a presentation that I present to other classes that deals strictly with MLA, which you can see here. It’s much less comprehensive than the Purdue OWL, but meant to be a quick intro or refresher. Enjoy!

Finally, I’ll have virtual office hours tomorrow (Thursday) afternoon/eve from 4-7 PM via online chat. email me to set up a time. They’re for questions re: papers only since we’ve already spent a lot of class time on the final exam. Please contact a classmate if you missed some of the review sessions to get an update.

week of 12/7: Kwanzaa and Faith Ringgold’s visual art

For Monday 12/7, we’ll (almost) wrap the semester with a look at Kwanzaa, the festival founded by Maulana Karenga and the US Organization.
We’ll have our last guest speaker of the semester, Dr. Segun Shabaka, to talk about the Kwanzaa tradition and its practice by the National Association of Kawaida Organizations (NAKO) in Brooklyn.
ReadRoots and Branches” and “The Seven Principles” (Nguzo Saba) from the official Kwanzaa website.
Watch Dr. Greg Kimathi Carr, chair of Howard University’s Department of Afro American Studies interviewed by Salim Adofo in this 29-minute TV show.

Optional: Read Floyd Hayes and Judson Jeffries’s “US Does Not Stand for United Slaves!” (PDF on the Readings page.)
 Further Resources: See Historian Keith Mayes’ Kwanzaa: Black Power and the Making of the African-American Black Holiday Tradition for a comprehensive look at the evolution of the celebration. Scot Brown’s Fighting For US is the definitive historical source on the US Organization.

Faith Ringgold, The Black Arts Movement. From the Art in Context website.

For Wednesday 12/9, we continue looking at visual art of the Black Arts Movement with a look at Faith Ringgold. Ringgold has become known for her story quilts, but we’re going to look at some earlier work from her “American People” and “Black Light” series of works from the 1960s to early 1970s. Read the 2 pdf files from Ringgold’s autobiography We Flew Over the Bridge. (Both PDFs on the Readings page; book is also at Wexler Library and the NY Public Library system).

Next view the images in the embedded PowerPoint file from the 2 series (which you can also download as a PDF):

  • What do you see?
  • Why is it appealing to you?
  • How does this work represent the ideas of the Black Arts Movement? (Does it?)
  • What are the similarities and differences between her work and that of Emory Douglas?
  • Who is represented in the pictures? Who isn’t?
  • Choose 2 images to create a short narrative about. What themes of the course and Black Arts Movement do you see represented?

    Our last class is on Monday December 14 and will be a wrap-up/review for the final exam. The final is on Monday, December 21 from 6:20-8:20 PM in our usual room. This follows Hunter’s standard Fall 2015 Final Exam Schedule-1 (PDF). Note the earlier start time and plan ahead — especially if you need to leave work early!

    Notes/Reminders: Remember that there’s a paper due next week. Also, the documentary Baddddd Sonia Sanchez is screening on Sunday 12/13 at the African Disapora Film Festival.

    Week of 11/30: Spook Who Sat By the Door and Emory Douglas’ Visual Art

    On Monday 11/30, we finish discussion on The Spook Who Sat By the Door and drafts of the final paper are due. No additional reading assignment, but catch up with the work you’ve missed and bring notes/ draft biblio of your paper with you to class: we’ll do a skill-share session if we have time.

    Presentation by Oxi, Karyn, and Kyle

    Reminder: we do not meet on Wed. 11/25 because of the holiday the next day.

    For Wednesday, December 2nd, we move to visual art in the Black Arts Movement. We’ll start with graphic and print artist Emory Douglas. Douglas was the Minister of Culture for the Black Panther Party and produced most of the graphics in the BPP’s newspaper and many of their posters.

    Read Collette Gaiter’s article “Visualizing a Revolution: Emory Douglas and The Black Panther Newspaper” (PDF on the readings page) and Emory Douglas’s “Position Paper #1 on Revolutionary Art” (Position_Paper_on_Revolutionary_Art_No1).

    Also view the Emory Douglas images on this Powerpoint: Douglas_Art_Present. (PDF version here: Douglas_Art_Present
    Browse the pictures then choose 2-3 to look at carefully. What do you see? Why is it appealing to you? How does this work represent the ideas of the Black Arts Movement? Who is represented in the illustrations? How do they portray Black people? Either save the images of your 2-3 favorites to your phone, tablet, or laptop and bring them to class or (if you have to) print them out. (You only need to bring 2-3; not all of them.) You will need the images to talk about them in class.

    Presentation on visual art by Marie, Ashley, and Ana

    Also watch this 10-minute Youtube interview with Douglas on how he joined the BPP and his approach to his work.

    optional extras:

  • See more of Douglas’s work at the Black Panther Party alumni and legacy website.
  • See the web archive for the 2009 show of Douglas’s artwork at NYC’s New Museum.
  • Douglas’s work (and a few essays) are collected in the book Black Panther: the Revolutionary Art of Emory Douglas, which is in the CUNY library system (though not at Hunter) and at the New York Public Library. Former BPP member David Hilliard has collected and published some of the BPP newspapers in The Black Panther: Intercommunal News Service 1967-1980; also available in the CUNY Library system and at the Schomburg.
  • Week of 11/23: Film — Spook Who Sat By the Door

    For Monday 11/23: we’ll watch the second half of The Spook Who Sat By the Door in class. For this half, think about the background in terms of themes of revolution and rebellion. Read Grace Lee Boggs’s essay, “The Black Revolution”, from Toni Cade Bambara’s The Black Woman anthology (PDF on the Readings page) and the LA Weekly article “LA Rebellion: Creating a New Black Cinema”. Lastly, watch this short compilation of scenes from Blaxploitation films:

    Also watch the trailer for Gillo Pontecorvo’s masterpiece The Battle of Algiers, which cinematically depicts the successful Algerian anti-colonial struggle against France. While Pontecorvo’s film was artistically influential, it also had political reverberations: could the techniques the Algerians used could be replicated? With urban rebellions (many of which were precipitated by acts of police violence) erupting across the country, it seemed within the realm of possibility to some, even if the success of such a strategy was doubtful at best.

    Although there isn’t a neat distinction between Blaxploitation as a genre and “Black Arts”, it’s worth noting that the Blaxploitation films generally evolved into mass, commercial entertainment controlled by the film studios, and focused more on putting Black faces in the films themselves, while not necessarily developing infrastructure or institutions that would support a larger ecosystem of Black writers, directors, film technicians, or studio and production facilities.

    One cinematic outgrowth of the era is the L.A. Rebellion filmmakers who emerge from UCLA’s film program. Although politicized by the Black Arts/Black power period, they don’t become active until the mid-late 1970s, and miss the height of Black Arts Movement. Charles Burnett, Haile Gerima, and Julie Dash are three of the most prominent to emerge.

    Here are a few things to think about while reading and watching (in class). First, film is difficult to produce in that the process of creating it is expensive and time-consuming, particularly in the analog era. No digital video or Final Cut Pro here, folks. This naturally limits the ability of Black Arts Movement aligned artists looking to do work beyond the mainstream.

    There’s also the issue of distribution. Again, consider technology of the time: no iTunes or video on demand, which means a release in theaters. That means distribution by a major studio, which Greenlee managed for Spook (using some deception about the film’s contents), but also meant very limited release and that it remained locked inside the studio’s vaults for decades. Greenlee had to be creative about getting Paramount Pictures to agree to distribute the film, as did Melvin Van Peebles with Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasss Song. (Van Peebles, ever the trickster, led people to believe he was making a porn movie.)

    Also, the soundtrack for Spook comes from noted jazz pianist Herbie Hancock, who was named Mwandishi, Swahili for “composer”, by James Mtume, who was affiliated with the Cultural Nationalist US Organization (and founders of Kwanzaa). This is a nod to the need to connect with people by the use of a popular musician and catchy soundtrack (which we still see in film today), shows the cross-genre connections of the Black Arts Movement, and is another example of artists becoming more widely politicized.

    Finally, consider contextual questions. What outside issues does all this relate to in 1974? How are Black characters portrayed on the screen in this film? What themes do you see that are similar to others we’ve seen this semester? Note also differences between Greenlee’s film and the Blaxploitation films that became popular at the time and had mainstream Hollywood backing behind them.

    Optional: If you have Netflix, the documentary BaadAsssss Cinema on Blaxploitation era film is worth a look (DVD only, no streaming).

    Wednesday 11/25 is the evening before the big holiday, so we don’t meet. Look for an update next week, but we’ll finish discussing Spook Who Sat By the Door on Monday 11/30 and the assignment will be short, considering that drafts of your final papers are due that day.


  • those of you who still owe me either a paper proposal or draft works cited should get them in. Aside from me not being able to help you with your paper, they count toward the paper grade.
  • Remember that we have a short paper due — now on 12/7 (changed from the date on the original assignment sheet). Details are on the Assignments page.
  • Don’t forget the screening of Baddddd Sonia Sanchez on Thursday 11/19 at the DOC NYC Festival. Advance tix highly recommended, since it will likely sell out.


    Week of 11/16: Abbey Lincoln/Max Roach and Spook Who Sat By the Door


    For Monday the 16th, we finish our discussion of the relationship of music and musicians to the Black Arts Movement with a look at Abbey Lincoln and Max Roach as a case study of jazz musicians responding to the movement.
    Listen to the Max Roach Quintet with Abbey Lincoln’s landmark We Insist! Max Roach’s Freedom Now Suite (1961) and the Abbey Lincoln tracks . Listen carefully to what Lincoln does vocally, both lyrically (on “Freedom Day”) and the emotion she puts into “Tryptich”, especially the screaming. Think carefully about how that resonates to the times and what sort of statement that makes. Consider also the album’s cover artwork (at the top of this post). It was controversial at the time, got the album banned in several states, and resulted in a release on the relatively small Candid Records label. The album was out of print for a long time and not readily available.

    Read the following (but be sure to do the listening!):

  • Max Roach, “Excerpts from Black World Interview”, in the SOS reader, pp. 185-188
  • Abbey Lincoln, “Who Will Revere the Black Woman”, in the SOS reader, pp. 106-109
  • Ingrid Monson, “Revisited! The Freedom Now Suite”, in JazzTimes.
  • Lara Pellegrinelli’s “A Look Back at the Music of Abbey Lincoln”, Part 1 and Part 2
    Think about the following:

  • How do Roach and Lincoln reflect the new militancy and changing times in their work and life?
  • Compare them to the other musicians we’ve covered and artists in other areas. What similarities or differences do you see in their approach to art and politics?
  • think carefully about Roach’s answers in the interview in SOS and Lincoln’s perspective on Black women. What does this show about their political sensibility as artists?
    For Wednesday 11/18, we’ll turn to film and look at how the Black Arts Movement tried to break into mass entertainment and on to the big screen. As an example, we’ll watch the first half of The Spook Who Sat By the Door, (1973) which was written by Sam Greenlee (the screenplay was adapted from his book of the same title), directed by Ivan Dixon (who co-starred opposite Abbey Lincoln in Nothing But A Man), and features a seriously funky soundtrack by Herbie Hancock. [Note for online course followers: Spook is also on Netflix, occasionally pops up on YouTube, and will be posted here on the Video page. Contact me for access.]

    Wednesday’s assignment is to think about the context of Spook and read/watch the following:

  • Read this short 2003 article (“After 30 Years, Controversial Film Re-emerges”) from NAACP’s The Crisis on Google Books
  • Read Cultural Historian Todd Boyd’s summary of the Blaxploitation film genre on The Root
  • Watch this 4-minute “making of” video on Youtube:

  • Week of 11/9: Music and Black Arts

    On Monday the 9th We move to music-inspired writing with a focus on John Coltrane’s masterpiece album A Love Supreme. While Coltrane himself was not as overtly political as many other artists of the time, his work (and death) had similar reverberations to that of Malcolm X, with numerous responses from artists working in various forms.

    Read the following from the SOS reader. Please bring the book with you to class so you can refer to specific lines.
    Poems (from the SOS reader):

  • Sonia Sanchez, “a/coltrane/poem” and “on seeing pharaoh sanders blowing”
  • Don. L. Lee (Haki Madhubuti) “Don’t Cry, Scream”
  • Carolyn Rodgers “Written for the Love of an Ascension-Coltrane”
  • Jayne Cortez: “How Long Has This Trane been Gone?”
  • Optional: From the Readings page:

  • Sonia Sanchez’s interview and poetry (includes”A Coltrane Poem”).
  • Haki Madhubuti’s interview from the Ask Me Now book on his connections with jazz and sound.
  • Listen to John Coltrane’s classic A Love Supreme album on Youtube while reading. (The entire album is about 32 minutes and is likely on Spotify/Rdio/iTunes Music, etc as well if you want to listen there). Listen at least once, preferably a few times. Even better: listen to it the first thing in the morning as the sun is rising.

    Watch this live performance of Coltrane’s “My Favorite Things”, which Sanchez references in “A Coltrane Poem”.

    Watch this short interview where Sanchez discusses her use of sound and how she approximates Coltrane’s sound in her work.

    Think about how Sanchez and Madhubuti try to approximate Coltrane’s sound in their work and play with words on the page in an effort to do so. Also think about what Sanchez says about the wider influence of the music on the work of poets in her interview. Again, be sure to do the listening!.


  • The DOC NYC film fest is coming up from the 12-17 and there are a few films of interest. Baddddd Sonia Sanchez is traces her life and will have wider commentary on the poetry and politics of the period. Hustler’s Convention focuses on Jalal Nuriddin, one of the members of The Last Poets. The Invaders focuses on a Black Power-era organization in Memphis, TN. and is preceeded by the 8-minute short, Emory Douglas: The Art of the Black Panthers. Although Liz Garbus’s Nina Simone documentary What happened, Miss Simone? is available on Netflix, you can catch it here, along with a Q&A with the director at one screening. Finally, even though you’ve already seen The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution, if you have family or friends who haven’t caught it yet (or want to see it again) here’s your chance. Film descriptions and showtimes are at the linked pages. Stronglyrecommend getting tickets as soon as you can since DOC NYC films tend to sell out. Recommended and extra credit is available if you’re motivated to write something up in response.
  • Remember also to start working on ideas for those final papers. (Assignment here, if you’ve lost the sheet.) Start choosing a topic and narrowing it down …
  • For Wednesday the 11th, we continue our discussion of the relationship of music and musicians to the Black Arts Movement with a focus on Nina Simone.

    Student presentation on Nina Simone by

    Read the following background pieces on Nina Simone:

  • Claudia Roth Pierpont’s “A Raised Voice: How Nina Simone Turned the Movement into Music” in The New Yorker. Read this slowly and take notes on Simone’s involvement with social movements.
  • Skim Nina’s biography on the Nina Simone website. Read this quickly to get a broad overview of Simone’s life and career.

    Watch/ Listen to the following Nina playlist on YouTube.

    Be sure to watch the video of Simone’s performance of “Four Women” live at the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival in Harlem’s Marcus Garvey Park. Pay attention to her clothing and hair style as obvious influences of the movement and new Black consciousness. As you watch, think about the lyrics and the narrative she’s telling about the experiences of Black women. Listen to “Why the King of Love is Dead” all the way through and note her commentary near the end. What does that tell us about her commitment as an artist and activist? About her response to King’s assassination?

    Optional/Extra: Watch Liz Garbus’s documentary film What Happened, Miss Simone?, which is available on Netflix.

  • Week of 11/2: Black Arts Poetry and Music [Updated]

    Photo: Homage to Black Women Poets by Elizabeth Catlett.

    Next week we finish with written poetry from the Black Arts Movement and move to music.

    For Monday, November 2, Read the following from the SOS reader. Please bring the book with you to class so you can refer to specific lines.
    Sonia Sanchez, “The Development of Social Values and the Birth of the Poet” (P.245) and “African and African-American Poetic Resistance to Imperialistic Social Values” (pp. 247-248) These pieces are background on the poetry.
    Optional: Read Haki Madhubuti’s essay “Storm Coming: Memory and History” (pp. 254-62) for more background.
    Poems (from the SOS reader):

  • Calvin C. Hernton “Jitterbugging in the Streets”
  • Don. L. Lee (Haki Madhubuti) “But He Was Cool or: he even stopped for green lights”
  • Audre Lorde “Naturally”
  • Jayne Cortez: “How Long Has This Trane been Gone?”
    Poems from the Jones/Baraka Reader (Please bring this book with you, too):

  • “SOS”
  • “It’s Nation Time”
    Think about connections to the larger themes we’ve addressed of Black Arts and the political statements and how (if?) they’re addressed in the poetry.

    Choose a few significant quotes from the text. Take notes on why they’re significant.

  • How does the poetry balance art and politics? In your opinion, does work on an artistic level? Why or why not?
  • What themes of Black Arts and Black Power do you see? Mark/underline specific examples in the text.
  • How do the poets use language?
  • What images do they present of Black people?
    Optional: See the Black Fire! reader on reserve in Hunter’s library for much more poetry, fiction, political statements, and plays.

    Reminder Remember to send me a proposal for your final paper if you haven’t already.

    Student presentation by Marcos, Vernette, and Ketsie


    Photo: Cover of the classic Coltrane album A Love Supreme that was widely influential.

    For Wednesday, November 4, we’ll have an opening presentation on music by Saxophonist and multi-instrumentalist Ras Moshe, who’ll discuss the work of John and Alice Coltrane as influences to Black Arts and jazz of the 1960s and beyond.

    Read “Jazz and the White Critic” in the Jones/Baraka reader (pp. 179-186). What’s baraka’s argument about Coltrane’s music and what that means more broadly to the movement? What’s the relationship of social class to music? Optional (for music enthusiasts): “The Changing Same (R&B and the New Black Music)” — also in the Jones/Baraka reader. This essay focuses more on popular music of the time.

    Listen to the following playlist on YouTube. Most of these are audio only; Coltrane’s “Afro Blue” is a live video and worth watching to get the full effect.

    Optional: See Pat Thomas’s book Listen Whitey: the Sights and Sounds of Black Power 1965-1975, on reserve in the Hunter Library for more on music and spoken word.

    Week of 10/26: Black Arts theater and spoken word poetry

    Photo: Playwright Alice Childress.

    Next week we finish with plays from the Black Arts Movement and move to poetry.

    For Monday, October 26, Read Alice Childress’s play Wine in the Wilderness in the SOS reader. Bring the book with you to class so you can refer to specific lines. We’ll also finish discussion of Sonia Sanchez’s The Bronx is Next: please re-read that. (PDF of the Sanchez play is on the readings page). One recurring theme we see in these plays is that of urban rebellions/riots.
    Think about the following as you read:

    • What’s the setting of the play and how does it help shape the action?
    • What themes of Black Arts and Black Power do you see? Mark/underline specific examples in the text.
    • What characters are portrayed in the play and how are they shown?
    • What social commentary or critique does Childress make?

      Watch the short trailer for the Newark ’67 documentary for background. You can watch the entire film online using your Hunter NET ID.

      Optional: The documentary film I’ve been showing clips of in class, <em>Black Theater: The making of a Movement, is also available to stream with your Hunter NET ID if you want to explore further.

      Announcements: The Sun Ra Arkestra (directed by Marshall Allen) will be at Brooklyn Bowl in Williamsburg on the 22nd. The Arkestra was founded by the eclectic musical visionary Sun Ra and has been kept going since his death by Marshall Allen. Also, a new Nina Simone documentary, The Amazing Nina Simone is playing for a week at the AMC Empire 25 theater on W 42nd St. Worth catching if you have an interest in Simone, especially for this class.


      Photo: The Last Poets, circa 1970.

      For Wednesday, October 28, watch the following videos in the embedded YouTube playlist. All are from albums of recorded 1960s/70s poetry.

      Presentation by Sheniece, Alycia, Papo, and Yudhel.

      Think about the following as you watch:

    • What kind of audiences might these appeal to? Why?
    • What themes of Black Arts and Black Power do you see?
    • How might these appeal to people not traditionally into poetry?
    • Would you buy these records
    • Optional: See Pat Thomas’s book Listen Whitey: the Sights and Sounds of Black Power 1965-1975, on reserve in the Hunter Library for more on music and spoken word.

    Week of 10/19: Black Arts Movement Theater

    Photo: The late Barbara Ann Teer in front of an early iteration of the (still existing) National Black Theater in Harlem

    Announcement: I handed out the assignment sheet for the final paper on Wednesday. Download a copy from the Assignments page if you were absent/lost your copy.

    Next week we continue with plays from the Black Arts Movement.

    For Monday, October 19, Read Marvin X’s Flowers for the Trashman in the SOS reader, and Jimmy Garrett’s We Own the Night (PDF on the Readings page).

    Think about the following as you read:

  • What kind of audiences might these plays appeal to? Why?
  • What themes of Black Arts and Black Power do you see? Mark/underline specific examples in the text.
  • How might you imagine these plays being presented?
  • Sonia Sanchez at Miami Book Fair International, 1990. / Wikicommons user MDCarchives

    Sonia Sanchez at Miami Book Fair International, 1990. / Wikicommons user MDCarchives

    For Wednesday, October 21, Read Sonia Sanchez’s, The Bronx is Next, Sister Son/ji, and essay. (All online). Watch: Director SC 2 talk about his 2009 production of Sonia Sanchez’s “The Bronx is Next” and “Sister Son/Ji”.

    … and this preview of The Bronx is Next and Sister Son/Ji

    While you read, think about the performance of Dutchman we saw. Think about how you might stage the Sonia Sanchez plays. How might the characters interact? How would the lines sound? How do you think non-traditional theater audiences would respond? How do they address issues of the time?

    Event: The Sun Ra Arkestra (directed by Marshall Allen) will be at Brooklyn Bowl in Williamsburg on the 22nd. The Arkestra was founded by the eclectic musical visionary Sun Ra and has been kept going since his death by Marshall Allen.