Occupy Wall Street and Ralph Ellison: African American Novels and Organized Resistance

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[By Kenton Rambsy] Although many commentators have noted that protests related to Occupy Wall Street have not included large numbers of black people, it is worth noting that historically speaking social protests do have a strong presence in African American literature. Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man (1952), not unlike the sentiments of OWS, seems to capture the growing frustration and discontent of American citizens with the […]

Call to War: The Cancer Journals

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Phillis h. Rambsy is an attorney and educator. In addition to her work in the fields of law and education, Phillis also studies, writes, and speaks about theological issues as well as issues concerning health and wellness. Phillis is powerfully committed to encouraging individuals to attain lives that are spiritually, physically, and mentally healthy. As summer takes its bow and September drifts into October, the […]

Katherine Dunham’s Use of Technology and Dance

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[By Danielle Hall] Some of what I have found most fascinating while researching Katherine Dunham as an intellectual involve examining the ways in which she used technology (film and musical recording devices) and her dance technique to advance the knowledge and studies of black people and Diasporan cultures throughout the world. Dance, then, functioned as a form of “Diaspora literacy” (as coined by VèVè Clark) […]

The Souls of Black Folk: Afrofuturism and Freedom Dreams

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[By Goyland Williams] The history of black people has been a history of movement—real and imagined. Who can hear “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” or Parliament’s “The Mothership Connection” and not hear these travel/escape narratives—afrofuturistic representations of freedom?  While the term Afro-futurism can be formally traced back to the publication of Mark Dery’s 1994 edited collection Flame Wars:The Discourse of Cyberculture, its message is not limited […]

Remembering Stormy Weather: Katherine Dunham and Agency

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[By Danielle Hall] On a rainy day like today, I am reminded of my first introduction to early African American cinema history, and specifically to Katherine Dunham. In July of 2002, my father called my attention to a movie on the TCM channel and it was Stormy Weather (1943). I had grown up watching a variety of film classics with my dad and was familiar […]

I Say: Speaking Agency in Sonia Sanchez’s “Song No. 2”

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[By Cindy Lyles]   The idea of agency encompasses one’s ability to enact power, to choose, and to navigate psychological and literal borders. In Sonia Sanchez’s poetry, this concept is prevalent, especially in the vivid imagery of mobility. Readers see various speakers in her different poems traveling from one place to another. In her poem “Song No. 2,” the poet uses distinct speech acts a […]

Where are the Girls? : 5 Novels That Focus on Black Girls

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[By Goyland Williams] In my last post, I mentioned Toni Morrison’s motivation and sense of urgency for writing The Bluest Eye as stemming from her concern that far too many novels failed to acknowledge and fully develop young black girls as central characters. An exploration of African American novels that place attention on young black girls, such as Pecola Breedlove, present readers with both similar […]