Sunday, January 31, 2010
Quote from Caroline Adams
Here’s a daily meditation to consider for those seeking self renewal daily in order to live each day anew: “Create in me a clean heart Oh God and renew a right spirit within in me.” Psalm 51:10 King James Bible version, have a great week!
Saturday, January 30, 2010
On October 6, 1871 the Jubilee choral tradition was born with the initial tour of the Fisk University Jubilee Singers. The group’s national tours and international celebrity helped save the financially strapped college and amassed funds to build the first permanent educational structure and symbol of Black higher education in the south, Jubilee Hall. Jubilee Hall is now a national landmark.
In 1872 the Fisk Jubilees were invited to sing at the World Peace Jubilee Festival in Boston with the largest choral group and orchestra ever assembled. Amidst the huge throng of performers, it is said that the singers found difficulty hearing and following the conductor in Boston's mammoth coliseum. The massive combined choirs began to loose their pitch and direction. But not the Fisk Jubilee Singers. Their musical acumen, perfect pitch, and crisp diction shone through like a beacon sufficiently anchoring the colossal musical production and thus saving a performance that may have been otherwise doomed. According to a Boston Globe review at the time, the FJS received a standing ovation. Hamburg hats were flung into the rafters.
During this period the famous Czech composer Antonin Dvorak became interested in African American music. In an 1893 interview in the New York Herald, Dvorak is quoted as saying, "In the Negro melodies of America I discover all that is needed for a great and noble school of music." Many Jubilee groups emerged over the years as well as other excellent HBCU choirs and developed magnificent choral traditions, but many historians concede that the FJS were the originators, cultural trailblazers, and first group to introduce the world to slave songs and traditional Negro spirituals. The group dignified Black musical excellence, arresting an original American art form from racial mockery and vicious stereotypes of minstrelsy.
The FJS often endured Jim Crow segregation and extreme hardships and ridicule in their American tours. But they received universal critical acclaim and artistic acceptance in their European tours, causing some singers to expatriate – a trend that continued among Black artists throughout much of the twentieth century. Diehard supporters like humorist Mark Twain and Brooklyn Reverend Henry Beecher Stowe (brother of Uncle Tom’s Cabin author Harriet Beecher Stowe) repudiated the racist naysayers and encouraged the nation to recognize the grace and beauty of its own indigenous art form.
Since 1871 the FJS have been traveling the world, performing on every continent before royalty, government heads, and adoring concert audiences. Their music and sacrifice offer an example of self-reliance, perseverance, and the power of music as truly a universal language. As the nation approaches the Annual observation of Black History month in February, let us not forget the doors of opportunity that were opened by these courageous and talented young African Americans. They carry on a tradition that continues but is too often under appreciated. (c)D-Day Media Group
Thursday, January 28, 2010
Howard Zinn, a progressive voice for racial equality and social justice for more than half a century, died Wednesday in Santa Monica, California. He was 87. An historian, shipyard worker, civil rights activist, World War II bombardier, and best selling author, Zinn inspired a generation of high school and college students to rethink American history.
In June 2007 I had the privilege of interviewing Dr. Zinn during the Harlem Book Fair, an annual event that encourages children and families to read and value books and learning as a means of cultivating the “life of the mind.” Our interview was conducted amidst paparazzi during my work as a consultant with a film crew shooting an historical documentary film about the Harlem Renaissance and the changing racial and cultural dynamics of Harlem in the twenty-first century.
The film, a work still in progress, is produced and directed by the award-winning African American Filmmaker William Greaves. I was impressed by Dr. Zinn’s candor and vigorous mind. He struck me as one resigned to the pursuit of intellectual honesty and open to debating those of differing ideological points of view. Dr. Zinn taught at a number of prestigious institutions, including Spellman College, and historically Black college, where he was chairman of the history department. Marion Wright Edelman, founder of the Children’s Defense Fund and Alice Walker the novelist were among his students. Dr. Zinn was also an active member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and marched for civil rights with his students, an act that angered Spellman’s president and was reportedly caused his termination for insubordination.
Howard Zinn’s productive literary years followed during his tenure at Boston University, producing the antiwar books “Vietnam: The Logic of Withdrawal” (1967 and Disobedience and Democracy” (1968). An Associated press obituary of Zinn asserts “Few historians succeeded in passing so completely through the academic membrane into popular culture. He gained admiring mention in he movie “Good Will Hunting”; Matt Damon a neighbor and admirer of Dr. Zinn appeared on a History Channel documentary about him; and Bruce Springsteen said the starkest of his many albums, “Nebraska,” drew inspiration in part from Mr. Zinn’s writings. As for me I drew from his example a greater self-assuredness that the power of one’s moral convictions can and do make a difference worth pursuing despite the status quo.
Monday, January 18, 2010
© 2010 D-Day Media Group