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.


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.