Pages

Monday, November 26, 2012

#GivingTuesday: what it is, what it means

Thoughtful  community activists hatched the idea that after Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the people need an antidote! That was the impetus for #GivingTuesday, November 27th, a day for people, businesses, groups to give their time, treasure, and attention to people in need, ideas to be explored, conversations to be had on dealing with thorny problems in our communities. There are opportunities and suggestions at the link above for ways to share and learn.

There are people in dire straights in our neighborhoods, cities, counties, states and around the world. It is perfectly logical to focus mainly on our own communities, but there is much to learn and ways to be involved with those outside our borders.

Helping hands
Humanitarian crises are a disaster for those in them and overwhelming to contemplate for those outside them. It is so tempting to turn away and say "it is not our problem" or "I don't know who or how to help". A first step is information gathering on different issues, finding a connection or interest in a particular place, problem, or group. A first stop in information gathering may be the UNHCR, The UN's Refugee Agency.  A list of current crisis areas (Sudan, Congo, Syria to name three) are catalogued and described with how to be involved links. Doctors Without Borders provides information on their work sites.

While some organizations are geared to providing food, shelter, and medical assistance, others are issues oriented. One issue that is currently on the minds of many people, is the life-and-death situation for gays and lesbians in Africa in general and Uganda in particular. To read an overview of what this legislation would do, please click here and here. The non-profit organization vey active is this area is Avaaz: for what to know and how to help, click on the link. Also check the post on this blog dated October 15th.

Censorship, detention, and death are often the consequences facing journalists who dare to confront power with truth. To learn more about these brave people, click here. In many communities, women who speak out are punished; to learn more about this subject and others, click here.

The first most important step in working on these problems is to learn about them and share the information with friends and neighbors.

And lastly, BlackPast.org is a 501 (c) 3 and would also appreciate consideration of your support! Thank you.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Books and Art: Beauty, Heritage, Posterity

Reading and books: the gifts of a lifetime. Art: creating and viewing are not passive activities, they hold, store, and explain the past and the present.

Portrait of an African Slave Woman, ~1580, attr. to Annibale Carracci
Portrait of a Wealthy African, ~1540, Flemish or German
The Walters Art Museum in Baltimore currently has an exhibit titled Revealing the African Presence in Renaissance Europe.There are sculptures, cameos, drawings, and paintings, including this one on the left, that show African people of all walks of life interacting with peers, servants, and masters in Europe.The book accompanying this exhibit is excellent and can be found at this link here.

Holland Cotter, art critic for the New York Times, has an abiding interest in African art. He recently reviewed three books published just in time for the holiday season. The fourth volume in the series The Image of the Black in Western Art, edited by David Bindman and Henry Louis Gates Jr.: this series is available for purchase: if the reader wishes to purchase it through this link, BlackPast.org will receive six percent of the purchase price.The second book reviewed by him is based on the exhibit at the National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution called African Cosmos:Stellar Arts. And finally, the catalogue for the exhibit In Extremis:Death and Life in 21st Century Haitian Art at UCLA's Fowler Museum will provide a basis for plenty of thought and discussion. Both the above books are also available through this link.

And, of course, the children should not be neglected! A thorough selection is available for children and youth at this link and also here.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

A Legendary Classical Musician of African Descent

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, 1905
This past September 2012 marked the centenary anniversary of the death of the Black English musician Samuel Coleridge-Taylor. Professor Coleridge-Taylor was celebrated in his short (37 years) life as a composer, conductor, teacher, and adjudicator. Early in his career, he met the African American poet Paul Laurence Dunbar and became very interested in exploring African history through music. One of his most popular and famous works was Hiawatha's Wedding Feast. His compositions numbered more than 85 pieces.


If you missed these events, there are 26 videos listed at this site of performances of his works as well as this one above.

During the fall of 2012 there have been commemoration concerts held at Harvard, Virginia State University, The Moores School of Music, and the University of Houston, amongst other places.

The links at the top of the page provide references to articles, biographies, musical notes, and historical contexts about this important and fascinating man.

And, during the 2012-13 operatic season, New Orleans' Opera Creole is also celebrating the Centenary with several performances.
Scene from the opera Thelma performed by the Opera Creole