Man Thoughts on Summerhill Seven's
of a Neurotic
Dennis Leroy Moore
on the Sleeve
is not the goal. Since this book is by a self-proclaimed
schizophrenic who inhabits a skitsofrantic life, then
the lack of this state of being, often referred to as
sanity, would have made these sololoquies impossible. —
Summerhill Seven, "Trialogue"
first met Alim Akbar in the summer of 2002 in New York City. I
had been asked to direct a play about a group of local gamblers
in a Harlem bar and had the arduous task of assisting the
producer with the casting. I was not in the best of moods, was
recovering from a nervous breakdown earlier that year, and was
making a weak attempt at returning to directing plays which I
had given up three years earlier in personal pursuit of
filmmaking and writing. That summer, and well after that, I
constantly had feelings of fragmentation, detachment, and rabid
felt comfortable, however, upon meeting and eventually working
with Alim Akbar aka Summerhill Seven. You see, Alim is
also a mad man.
didn't know much about Alim and still don't. I know what I have
to know and seldom ask or pry into his personal affairs and he
seems to do the same. Our paths crossed, we ran in the same
circles for a period, got high once or twice together, and even
dated the same girl once. The girl was a writer from Chicago.
She wasn't crazy. This poor girl was psychotic and when I told
Alim I would quit seeing her if he wanted to date her, he
quipped: "Uh-uh, no, no
you can have her."
know he misses his mother, he was married once, he writes every
day like a junkie looking for a fix, he adores Shakespeare, and
shares my love for the avant-garde. I always liked the fact that
he was a lawyer. He seems to dig that I went to Julliard—but
didn't graduate. We respect one another's art and the demons
that seem to rage within us. Alim was easily the most
charismatic and fearless actor I had worked with in 2002 and
certainly one of the most passionate and determined actors I
have ever known.
live in a moment in time that is crunched down-held up-sewn
within the seams. We are hanging onto dear life in a punching
bag that dangles on its last leg. No one is willing to risk it
all to express the pain around us. No one is willing to
free-fall as the majestic clowns and poets of the old were
willing to do. In short, we are all afraid of the good fight.
This is a problem far too great for me to go into right now, but
one that keeps popping up in my head even as I try to gain
distance on the "the scene" in America from Berlin,
where I write this.
is easily ten years my senior, we are just barely contemporaries
and commentators of the same generation. What I hold inherently
sacred and vital to life Alim does as well. This is what
attracts me to his writings in his book. You see, at times, I
feel like I have written it. (And no, to clarify he's the schizo,
I'm labeled the more fashionably
ahem — "Bi-polar")
readily admit that the Americans have no poets; I cannot
allow that they have no poetic ideas."
de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, Part II/Book One
of a Neurotic is an eclectic mélange of poems, humorous
interludes, observations, and dramatic fiction. It is designed
to "heal the emotions of the reader, the speaker, and the
book is clearly a work of art that is reflective of the chaos in
this world; a journey of an unstable man trying to find his way
in this world. It is in many ways the spiritual biography of
Alim Akbar. Part manifesto, part confession — it
is the current analogy in literature to what I tried to
accomplish with my 2002 film As an Act of Protest.
being one of the only artists in New York City to publicly and
proudly support my film (he taught it and screened it to his
students), Alim's work shimmers with a similar fever that mine
has been dipped in. That is the fever of the split atom, the
"crazy" urban black intellectual, the scared
neurotic. What I tried to do formally and structurally within my
own directorial work Alim has done as a writer. The difference
is that where I may or may not have succeeded (my opinion alters
depending on the day and my mood) I believe Alim has.
and flashes of brilliance flicker, for example, in his
Schizophrenic "Skitsofrantic Soliloquies" section.
These come off as haiku or proverbs or as they have been aptly
described as "the fruit of the poet tree." In
"Observation," he writes:
find that my life is a lot happier when I avoid white
men in robes, whether they are black or white . . .
as an Arab American, he poignantly writes:
Bush declared war on somebody and I don't know who and I
am losing my mind because everyone I know doesn't like
me and everyone I know doesn't trust me.
wicked and cool sense of humor stands to attention in
"Peace," which easily could have been part of a
Richard Pryor monologue in the 1970's. Check it out:
prayed for peace and got it!
was so dam bored I saw a dog and shot it.
dog came back to haunt me,
a blunt and drinking coffee.
you imagine a dog with a caffeine high?
cool cuz he has chronic burning in his mind's eye?
is a theater artist and I say this to re-iterate his approach
and style to writing and assembling the works collected in
"Notes." In many ways, I feel relieved that he has
begun to accomplish what I was waiting for. A new black literary
voice who had one foot in theater, one foot in poetry, and one
foot - 'er hand - in
outer space, or somewhere.
Humor is what I suppose we can call it. Something I myself have
been tempted to explore. The combinations and mixes and the
rapid pace of the altering styles is one of the main features of
the new wave of Black American fine artists that emerged in the
late 20th-early 21st century. Most of us who were interested in
expressing his or her own unique voice—particularly
those of us in Northern urban areas—did
it in whatever vein we saw fit, even when the moods and shapes
changed drastically from one moment to the next.
just don't understand the jazz of our work. Charles Mingus said
that for him Byrd was it—
because he was expressing how he felt. The greatest self
expression abounds in simplicity, and yet its meanings and
emotions are so doubled and tripled and full of inborn
contradictions and philosophies about life you can experience
the work over and over and never get tired of it.
follows function in Alim's Theater of Neurosis. And just when I
feel Alim is going along with the flow of the stream and giving
in to what the audience wants, he opts to swim his own way. This
is his saving grace and what keeps him rooted as an artist. His
interest in people, his pathologies, his political convictions,
his sexual appetites, his impish desire at times to shock
and annoy, most importantly—his
sensitivity to the musical tones of life and the presence of
death in our every day existence. In his own unique way, Alim
has created a post-modern metropolitan black Spoon River
Anthology. Yes. This is another bizarre connection I have to
Alim. The River Flows, the 1993 adaption, was the first
off-Broadway play I ever did. I played Death himself and was
like a character torn from "Notes." These are not
coincidences, for things don't just happen—they
"Notes," Alim liberally sprinkles his book with quotes
from everyone from Saint Baldwin (James) to the prophetic rancor
of early Baraka (LeRoi Jones) and the poetic wisdom of William
Shakespeare. These quotes serve to remind the reader of either a
theme or concept being explored or expressed and/or to give the
actor reading it a cerebral inspiration on the page that may
lead him down the correct path as he begins to dramatically
interpret and perform a specific text. The book—a
slim 148 pages—is
packed with conceptual ideas, puns, clever plays on words and
titles (i.e. poet
tree, poemedies, essalogues, etc.) but I am not interested in or
willing to indulge us into the meanings behind those phrases or
titles or explain how "clever" Alim can be.
cares? Real art is not about being clever. It is about
expressing how much you know about life. And for all of Alim's
broader appeal (when he performs, my wife refers to him as
"the thinking man's Will Smith" in the sense that he
is good-looking and charming enough to be able to garner a
willing and very harmless mixed crowd) and his ability to hold
court with a potentially more varied audience than me, for
example, his strength is not in the trappings and superficial
aspects of his more liberal and accessible poetry. No. It is, I
believe, in the heart and soul of his prose and
monologues-proper. Or what he refers to as his "Essalogues."
This is where Alim excites me the most and where he is at his
short story "Heads" is one of the most provocative and
honest pieces in the entire collection. In its Raymond Carver-esque
minimalism, tongue-in-cheek bravado, and muted satire, Alim's
narrator recounts how he killed three white people (a racist
punk, a lawyer, and a landlady) and is completely at wits end
working and living with white people. They are simply too much
to deal with and they do nothing but constantly aggravate and
it is treated humorously or with straight up tragic
killing white people or the "oppressor" is one that
has infiltrated and consumed a great deal of modern Black
American art work. It runs through the plays of LeRoi Jones/Amiri
Baraka, the music of Public Enemy, and has been finessed and
relayed masterfully by composers such as Bob Marley and is
hinted at within the canvasses of the painter Aaron Douglas. Not
literally, but in spirit.
my own early work constantly wrestled with my own anger and
frustration over what to do when living in a racist society.
Alim's treatment of the matter is less directly heavy handed,
however, and not as tragic. It is much more absurd and has the
maturity it takes to see the scenario through a simple and clean
filter: it's all a day's work. The humor is venomous and already
present in the opening paragraph:
I mean the
idea of killing four white people in the twenty-first
what, to redress some historical wrong? I just
simply was not with it.
that I have already killed three, I am starting to get
I mean, I really am starting
to get the hang of
stuff. Very dry, very simple. What makes it funny is the element
of truth behind it, what makes it creepy is that you know the
narrator is tired and doesn't have time for jokes. Or perhaps
the former is the latter and the latter is the former?
I don't know, now I've confused myself. Anyway, it
the story reveals and how Alim seems to express it so
effortlessly is what counts. Our narrator tells us he killed his
first victim because he was called a "nigger," he
killed his second victim because he couldn't stand working with,
for, under this incredibly arrogant and prejudiced man who was
one of the head lawyers in a law firm that had hired our
black person who has ever worked in an office setting or
corporate environment instantly recognizes the sort of white
male that Terry Apath is. This is where you know that the bond
and anticipated audience of this story is black because
of the casualness and simplicity unto which the story is
relayed. As with the tradition of African American literature,
the story is very oral and has a great deal of
"signifying," and radicalizing simply within the
point this out because I do find it important that black writers
still approach their work in such a cool and naturally stated
way. In an era of "Who is your audience?" and "No
one will understand your references, people are not smart as
they used to be," it is refreshing that Alim invites the
reader into his world, into his neurosis and doesn't comment on
what they may or may not understand. Instantly you are a
confidante and this is what made some of the white listeners
uncomfortable at the Book Party in February 2005, when portions
of the book were read in public.
Not that anyone objected, no.
people will never object to anything considered
"artistic," within a black or mixed milieu for fear of
being labeled racist or a "phony liberal."
They will just roll their eyes, squirm, or smirk—as
if to say "That is sooo hateful, I could never...! I'm more
developed than you, gosh you people with your
Superfly-Shaft-Badass-anger. I've seen it all before! I'm Jewish
and I don't write stories or fantasize about killing Germans or
of all that would be a lame excuse and a ridiculous comparison.
But of course they don't have to write about anything similar—white
people take out all their aggression directly. They don't have
to write stories, they can blow up countries. They don't believe
in art or therapy and when they they do—they
site only musical artists. As if to imply that music is
"free" from any political-social relevance...I am
obviously generalizing here to make a very serious point.
Americans (particularly the young white American) miss the point
when evaluating or simply even reading real African American
fiction. It would
be misleading, however, to imply that Alim writing for white
people. He isn't. And when he does he makes it clear that he is.
But this problem infiltrates black readers' minds as well as
whites. There shouldn't be a need to specify or diffuse either
way but we all know history and the way this world works.
My point: if White Americans aren't going to
read their masters or really dig into their own problems—the
way Bob Dylan and Paul Simon did thirty-five years ago, then
they had better read and taste the folk art of the Black
American if they want to begin to understand their country,
their world, their history—their
Alim doesn't write about Pimps in the street
and spray "hip" derogatory terms throughout his work.
He's beyond that, even though it is what is expected from Black
writers and filmmakers. He doesn't exploit
"blackness," women, or the so-called "urban
grievances are real. He reveals the scowl behind the grin, the
anger that is just below the surface.
But for all his genuineness, no one seems to
pay attention to Alim or several other artists working within
the same mix. Folks will say: "Well, he's got no audience,
yet cause he hasn't been on TV or featured on the front page of
the Arts & Leisure section of the NY Times, or he hasn't
debut with some rising Pop Star-Gangster-Wanna-be-Hip Hop
buffoon. Lies and excuses, my friends. But the reason this cuts
deep is because being a theater artist almost lends itself to
Besides the Lincoln Center effete crowd and a
few organizations, and a handful of WASPS in New England or
Boston or even in good old "progressive" San Francisco—the
theater means very little to people. Artists or otherwise. I
often wonder if maybe that's not the way it has always been.
those who believe playwright Suzan Lori-Parks or David Mamet
still have any true power or progressive instincts on stage—they
are holding worthless promissory notes. Mamet imitates himself,
Parks cashes in on what the mainstream audiences will expect her
to turn in or evaluate—
particularly as an African American woman. Neither is of the
current state of consciousness emanating within the arts
(whatever is left of it, that is) and both are very
looking for the real news, the truthful insights, and the still
untamed social and political observations should read Alim's
work and go underground—wherever
that is. I guarantee the monologues and theatrical texts that
Alim offers are a thousand times purer, personal, and poetic
than anything in the mainstream theater or poetry houses.
Because, similarly, if Russell Simmons destroyed comedy with Def
Jam Comedy (as Bernie Mac claims he did) then he absolutely
murdered poetry with his Def Jam Poetry.
it is typical and passe' to hear some Black or Latino or East
Asian or Middle Eastern poet or some gay white chick with
piercings get on stage and whine (these people don't even know
how to scream) about racism, sexism, the War in Iraq—all
in familiar and rhetorical cadences, with a wink, nod, and bow
to the word(s) "my nigga," "George
Bush-shit," and/or something to do with
"pussy-bush-the ghetto-the street-Gucci-Donna Karan-Park
Ave-USA-" Blah, blah, blah, blah.
It's all empty. Such is the nature of pop. Particularly when it
is popular to assume a stance of righteous anger. Alim himself
is not innocent of any of these popular and accepted streams of
current poetry, but Alim is not a poseur. He's been to the
gutter and back. He's lived and as much as he loves poetry, even
he has admitted that—similar
to the state of hip hop and Pop music—the
poetry in NYC scene is dead. It is dead because it has been
like the theater, is dead because it still sells itself out to
pimps who want to rape it. Poets continue to bend over (like
independent filmmakers) and completely ignore their pride,
talent, and soul. Why should poets perform on main stage
theaters, why should filmmakers want their films to be seen in
malls? Is that the most we can achieve and hope for? Wouldn't we
rather gather in someone's intimate apartment and create our own
studio? Are artists that contemptuous of each other that we
really can't work together because we all just want to be richer
than each other and get revenge on our un-supportive families or
patronizing bosses or apathetic teachers?
poets of the night are dead—because
they want to be. They drop their pants, grab their ankles and
give up any virtue or innocence left. They are like victims who
beg to be raped and then cry when someone tells them
"Are you nuts? You need to do something about this!
You need to call the police!"
that in mind, read the following and imagine it is the last
scene of a play. Imagine you saw every meretricious slice of
nonsense on Broadway, then got a headache from the imposters
Off-Broadway. You went home, vomited, felt a lot better and
swore to yourself over that toilet-bowl that you would never go
"drinking" again. A friend begs you (or if you have no
friends imagine a little angel flies into your face) to go and
read/see Alim's work and "taste" something new. You
go, taste it, and realize maybe even half-way through—that
what you are drinking ain't new, it's just what most of us under
40 are constantly denied: truth within the arts.
imagine: you are seated
somewhere and it is dark. There is a slight chill that runs up
your spine. There are maybe twenty people in this audience.
Under the moon, the stage lights flash up from below—they
are dim and but we see our Narrator clearly—because
we experience something almost foreign in its brightness. The
lights slowly dim as our Narrator admits (perhaps in a choked up
was fun to kill; killing the landlord was out of anger
and I just did it because. It was kind of funny,
technically speaking I am not sure if it was on the same
day because the Arabs start their day in the dark at 12
am. But, as you already know the landlord was Jewish,
and for the life of me I don't know when they start
their day. But since her Jewishness was incidental to
the cause of her death, I guess it didn't really matter.
I just strangled her for no more than a minute or two. I
had on the same blue-green Isotoner gloves that I
strangled Terry with.
Our man tries to smile, but can't. He looks at
his gloves, lights a cigarette, and looks out into the audience.
is the first part of an essay in Two Parts by
Dennis Leroy Moore.
Originally reviewed March 5, 2005,
Revised for publication July 29, 2005 © Copyright
* * * *
summer hill seven
for a neu generation ®
Summer Hill Seven (f.k.a. Alím Ákbar) —
author, actor, artist, and attorney. Although raised in Albany,
NY and Trenton, NJ, he has resided throughout the United States
in various cities including Los Angeles, Indianapolis,
Cincinnati, Newark (Delaware and N.J.) and currently New York
City. He graduated,
second in his class, from the historically significant Sister
Clara Muhammad School in Philadelphia, PA, the oldest school in
the United States for the training of Muslim students.
began lecturing in jails and correctional facilities while still
in high school. Seven graduated with honors from Richard
Stockton College of New Jersey with a B.A. in Political Science
and New York University School of Law, where he was the National
Director of Community Service for the National Black Law
Students Association. He
was an adjunct professor in African American Studies at the City
University of New York. Currently
he is affiliated with the University of Delaware’s
Professional Theatre Training Program.
began a career as a professional actor while in law school when
he realized the theater was a powerful tool for social change.
He has created roles for both stage and screen. While a law
student he traveled with a national tour of the Pulitzer Prize
winning play, A Soldier’s Story. He created the role of Husband in the mid-west regional
premier of John Henry Redwood’s, The Old Settler at the
Phoenix Theater (Eugene O’Neil Award).
just directed his first film entitled A Poet’s Pilgrimage,
a short film about a law student who decides to leave law school
after the destruction of the World Trade Center on September 11,
2001 to pursue his dream of becoming a poet.
Seven is currently touring the United States with A
Poet’s Pilgrimage and reading from his first book, Notes
of a Neurotic! Included
in this volume are five of his plays, which have received
world-premiere productions in off-off-Broadway theatres in New
is also the talented director of Platanos & Collard
Greens, written by the groundbreaking hip-hop novelist and
playwright, David Lamb. Platanos & Collard Greens
opened in the summer of 2003 and continues to play to sold-out
audiences in New York City while simultaneously touring college
campuses throughout the United States.
his commitment to theater as a positive source of personal and
social growth, Summer Hill Seven has practiced both commercial
and public interest law. In particular: public finance,
bankruptcy, consumer advocacy and housing discrimination.
entertaining and inspirational speaker, Summer Hill Seven hosts
a weekly internet radio show on WVUD – 2: www.wvud.org and speaks frequently on college campuses throughout the United
of a Neurotic is
available at Barnes & Noble, Amazon.com and Authorhouse.com.
HANG TIME: A Poetic Memoir!, his latest book is scheduled
to be released during Kwanzaa 2006.
entire concept of Summer Hill Seven is a dynamic upholding of
the artist’s mythic-journey in this world and the conundrum he
faces when the commercial world tries to spread its claws over
cultural expression and art.
It is a scary and relevant theme in our lives not because
we can see through the façade of the co-opting of art by
corporations – but because it has simply always been this way.— Dennis Leroy Moore,
Filmmaker, As An
Act of Protest
Alím Ákbar began his lecture in a unique manner that in effect
bound his audience to intellectually participate for the next
hour and fifteen minutes in a joint learning and discussion
Ákbar then challenged his students by effectively reciting a
short passage from the Koran in Arabic.
His point was to demonstrate that while there is much
concern about the role of religion in contemporary international
politics, there is also poetry and history in religious text
that one is not generally familiar with.
I could not detect any weaknesses in Prof. Akbar’s
overall assessment of Prof. Ákbar is that he is an above
average orator, well organized, maintains the interest of his
audience and is very knowledgeable in the area of African
American history.— Dr. Kwando Kinshasa,
City University of New York
Thursday I had the distinct pleasure of viewing a one man show,
depicting some of the many great poems of Langston Hughes.
At first one might be under the mistaken impression that
this will be a long, drawn out, simple verse by verse reading of
Mr. Hughes works, but I am glad to say it was anything but.
Each rendition of poetry was accompanied by music that
seemed to give it a life of its own.
The narrator, actor/professor Alim Akbar, read
Langston’s poems as if they were truly his own, as if he could
see into the heart and the mind of the man himself. With great skill the artist managed to make the audience feel
an actual part of the process.
These poems were their life and their work.
You may have said to yourself at the beginning of this
play that the poetry of Langston Hughes, work of art that they
are, are classics, there is no getting better for them.
But I think that by the end of the play you may well
agree that it just might just have.— Ari-ayana Rodway, John
Jay College, NYC
play was perfect.— Jan Folvarsky, CUNY,
student of the theatre should read his highly thoughtful and
thought-provoking book.—Professor Randy Hertz,
NYU School of Law
Hill Seven is powerfully funny and provocative.—David Lamb, author of Do
Platanos Go Wit’ Collard Greens?
Hill Seven is brilliant. Exciting!—Laurence Holder, author
of Renaissance Solos
Notes of a Neurotic, the author provides poetry, essays
and plays that are as bombastic as the writings of Amiri Baraka
as piercing as Miguel Pinero and as poetic as Paul Laurence
Dunbar often all in the same sentence.
In addition to the entertainment and intellectual value,
these Notes of a Neurotic! are specifically designed to provide
enrichment to the reader, the speaker and the writer of these
* * *
* * *
Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in
By Melissa V.
According to the
author, this society has historically exerted
considerable pressure on black females to fit into one
of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the
Matriarch or the Jezebel. The selfless
Mammy’s behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to
white folks’ domestic concerns, often at the expense of
those of her own family’s needs. By contrast, the
relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable
temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as
an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the
characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television
shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.
points out how the propagation of these harmful myths
have served the mainstream culture well. For instance,
the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for
black females to feel a maternal instinct towards
As for the source
of the Jezebel, black women had no control over their
own bodies during slavery given that they were being
auctioned off and bred to maximize profits. Nonetheless,
it was in the interest of plantation owners to propagate
the lie that sisters were sluts inclined to mate
* * *
A Wreath for Emmett Till
By Marilyn Nelson; Illustrated by
This memorial to
the lynched teen is in the Homeric
tradition of poet-as-historian. It is a
heroic crown of sonnets in Petrarchan
rhyme scheme and, as such, is quite
formal not only in form but in language.
There are 15 poems in the cycle, the
last line of one being the first line of
the next, and each of the first lines
makes up the entirety of the 15th. This
chosen formality brings distance and
reflection to readers, but also calls
attention to the horrifically ugly
events. The language is highly
figurative in one sonnet, cruelly
graphic in the next. The illustrations
echo the representative nature of the
poetry, using images from nature and
taking advantage of the emotional
quality of color.
There is an introduction by the author, a page
about Emmett Till, and literary and poetical footnotes to the
sonnets. The artist also gives detailed reasoning behind his
choices. This underpinning information makes this a full
experience, eminently teachable from several aspects, including
historical and literary—School
* * *
Life on Mars
By Tracy K. Smith
Tracy K. Smith, author of Life on Mars has been selected as the winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. In its review of the book, Publishers Weekly noted the collection's "lyric brilliance" and "political impulses [that] never falter." A New York Times review stated, "Smith is quick to suggest that the important thing is not to discover whether or not we're alone in the universe; it's to accept—or at least endure—the universe's mystery. . . . Religion, science, art: we turn to them for answers, but the questions persist, especially in times of grief. Smith's pairing of the philosophically minded poems in the book’s first section with the long elegy for her father in the second is brilliant." Life on Mars follows Smith's 2007 collection, Duende, which won the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets, the only award for poetry in the United States given to support a poet's second book, and the first Essence Literary Award for poetry, which recognizes the literary achievements of African Americans.
* * * * *
My First Coup d'Etat
And Other True Stories from the Lost Decades of Africa
Though the colonies of sub-Saharan Africa began to claim independence in the
late 1950s and ’60s, autocratic and capricious leadership soon caused initial
hope to fade, and Africa descended into its “lost decades,” a period of
stagnation and despondency from which much of the continent has yet to recover.
Mahama, vice president of the Republic of Ghana, grew up alongside his nascent
country and experienced this roller-coaster of fortunes. In this memoir, Mahama,
the son of a member of parliament, recounts how affairs of state became real in
his young mind on the day in 1966 when no one came to collect him from boarding
school—the government had been overthrown, his father arrested, and his house
unpretentious style, Mahama unspools Ghana’s
recent history via entertaining and enlightening
personal anecdotes: spying on his uncle
impersonating a deity in order to cajole
offerings of soup from the villagers hints at
the power of religion; discussions with his
schoolmates about confronting a bully form the
nucleus of his political awakening. As he
writes: “The key to Africa’s survival has always
been . . . in the story of its people, the
paradoxical simplicity and complexity of our
lives.” The book draws to a close as the
author’s professional life begins.—Publishers
* * *
Honorée Fanonne Jeffers
derives her form and jaunty, deal-with-it
attitude from the blues, an American
tradition that beats back despair with wit,
élan, and grace. Artfully distilled,
Jeffers' musical and forthright lyrics cut
to the chase in their depictions of
self-destructive love, treacherous family
life, and sexual passion turned oppressive
or violent. She calls on her mentors,
soulful musicians such as Dinah Washington,
James Brown, John Coltrane, and Aretha
Franklin, for guidance, then, sustained by
their voices, segues into vivid imaginings
of the inner lives of biblical figures such
as Sarah, Hagar, and Lot's wife; a man about
to be lynched; and a former slave bravely
attending college. And whether she's singing
the "battered blues" or critiquing
Hollywood's depiction of slavery, Jeffers is
questioning the nature and presence of God.—
* * * * *
The White Masters
of the World
The World and Africa, 1965
By W. E. B. Du Bois
W. E. B. Du Bois’
Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization
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Ancient African Nations
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Negro Digest / Black World
Browse all issues
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Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan
The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll
Only a Pawn in Their Game
Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery /
George Jackson /
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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg
Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804
January 1, 1804 -- The Founding
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(Books, DVDs, Music, and more)
26 July 2012