Loss and The Katrina Papers

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[By Goyland Williams] In her afterword to David Eng and David Kazanjian’s edited collection of essays entitled, Loss: The Politics of Mourning, Judith Butler notes, “On the one hand, there is the loss of place and the loss of time, a loss that cannot be recovered or recuperated but that leaves its enigmatic trace.” She continues, ” And then there is something else that one cannot “get […]

Reflections on a NEH Institute: Cornelia Walker Bailey and Sapelo Island

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[By Will Cunningham] Cornelia Walker Bailey is Sapelo Island. She is a descendant of Bilali, of whom she writes in her memoir that “If you had been standing on the white sands of this island at day clean in 1803, or a little later, you might have seen a tall, dark-skinned man with narrow features, his head covered with a cap resembling  a Turkish fez, […]

A Lesson Before Dying: Notes for Human Liberation

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[By Goyland Williams] Ernest Gaines’ A Lesson Before Dying has been compared to the works of Richard Wright, James Baldwin, and even William Faulkner. Much like these writers, Gaines calls the reader to confront the entire bitter history of black people in the South and America as a whole. No doubt, Gaines writes this piece just as much for the white youth of this country […]

An Ethic of Quiet: Beyond the Black Public Self

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[By Goyland Williams] It is 1968. Tommie Smith, John Carlos, and Peter Norman stand poised during the Olympic medal ceremony in Mexico City. Both Smith and Carlos’ heads are bowed-as if in deep prayer, their clinched fists are raised high, and their black bodies are on display for all the world to see. And while this public protest may be read as both intimate and […]

The Coverage Of… The Radical Martin Luther King

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[By Kenton Rambsy] In the summer of 2005, I had the privilege to attend the Tennessee American Legion Boys State program where I learned about state government, took part in leadership activities, and became more aware of what role I could play in the American political system. This particular summer stands out to me because during this summer program, I began to think critically about […]

Zora Neale Hurston and Metaphors of Black Womanhood in Their Eyes Were Watching God

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[By Danielle Hall] In Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937), Zora Neale Hurston’s female protagonist Janie Crawford symbolizes both female empowerment and autonomy. By situating the life of character Janie Crawford as the focus of her novel, Hurston challenges perceived notions of gender in a style that provides an entrée into the communal and personal dimensions of black womanhood. I have considered what Darlene Clark […]

The Paraphernalia Of Suffering: Reflections On Beloved and Their Eyes Were Watching God

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[By Goyland Williams] James Cone’s most recent book The Cross And The Lynching Tree, have provided space for me to think about the role and importance of literary depictions of suffering in African-American life. The theme of suffering, however loud or subtle, has its place in African American literature. From slave narratives to Sonia Sanchez’s poetry, literary representations of black existential concerns have been crucial […]