The 2015 Bid for Power and History in Savannah (Georgia, USA) – Bright Skylark Literary Productions

There’s a lot at stake when it comes to casting a vote for the mayor of Georgia’s first city. Candidates not only stand to make history but to shape it some very powerful ways. (photo of Edna B. Jackson courtesy of Diva Magazine)

Journalist Patricia C. Stumb, in a 1999 Connect Savannah news magazine story titled “Peace, love & blessings…,” wrote of how I “found worldly consciousness in the heart of [my] hometown.” Her observation was surprisingly precise because during that period while living in Savannah, Georgia, I had indeed become more aware of my hometown on the global scale of things. I had also become more cognizant of myself as an author whose influences and inspirations tended often to derive from regions far beyond it.

However, expanded consciousness or not, there was no such thing as overlooking the profound thematic shift that occurred in the city’s history when Floyd Adams became its first African-American mayor in 1996. That event prompted the composition of these lines:

By way of an African wind
a letter came today.
It was not scribbled over
Hallmark fantasies or
popcultural postcards;
it was engraved on sweat-dyed scrolls
manufactured by centuries
of anguish, struggle, determination.
––from the poem A Letter Came Today (I Made My Boy Out of Poetry)

The thematic transition grew even more powerful in 2003 with the election of Otis Johnson as mayor of the city and in 2011 when Edna Branch Jackson won the office. Up until this point, too much of the story of African Americans in Savannah had been one of a people continuously oppressed and suppressed by history itself. Different industries (such as film) and individuals benefited economically from that history but Blacks native to the city have rarely done so to any significant degree.

The Re-Historicization of a Narrative

The elections of Adams, Johnson, and Jackson created a thematic evolution that has helped the city prepare for even more dramatic and culturally inclusive demographic shifts already in progress. Call it the re-historicization of a narrative that dates back at least to late 1800s Reconstruction.

Please enjoy the complete essay at this link: Source: The 2015 Bid for Power and History in Savannah (Georgia, USA) – Bright Skylark Literary Productions

When the Lyrical Muse Sings the Creative Pen Dances – Bright Skylark Literary Productions

If you’re a regular reader of my national African-American cultural arts column, you may have noticed that I have not been posting articles as frequently as I once did. The reason is simple enough. Having reached a certain point in the research for my current book-in-progress (at least one of them anyway) I had to reduce as many additional writing obligations as possible to fully concentrate on completion of the work.

For me, this is the part of authorship when the lyrical muse sings and the creative pen dances. The greater bulk of the more rigid tasks of verification and documentation have been satisfied, and imagination may be allowed to take over the processes of narrative construction. The resulting musical flow of image and language stamp the work with its own unique identity. And its own self-defined meanings destined to merge with different readers’ interpretations of the same.

The Writer and the Times

I started the national African-American cultural arts column on July 13, 2009, with a story about the debut of Johnny and Me, Savannah author Miriam K. Center’s play based on her friendship with the late 4-time Academy Award-winning composer Johnny Mercer. That was followed by a profile of acclaimed artist Jerome Meadows.

The next month, August, saw the launch of the controversial series on the trial (and eventual execution) of Troy Anthony Davis, convicted for the murder of Savannah policeman Mark Allen MacPhail.  Not writing about Davis’s trial, to my mind, would have been a case of gross negligence. Doing so was one early indication of what readers would discover over the next few years: basically, I found it impossible to restrict myself (as asked to do) to the subject of “the arts” as pertaining to African Americans.

Please check out the full post by clicking here: When the Lyrical Muse Sings the Creative Pen Dances – Bright Skylark Literary Productions

5 Ways to be Geniuses Together: Celebrating Ja Jahannes

Quote by Ja A. Jahannes with art graphic by Postered Poetics and Aberjhani.
“Unless we learn” quote by Ja A. Jahannes (with art graphic by Postered Poetics)

One self-penned definition of the word genius is: a focused intensification of individual intelligence resulting in works of exemplary creativity, visionary leadership, or uncommon spiritual depth and beauty. This definition is perhaps a fitting one to describe much of the life and legacy of Rev. Dr. Ja A. Jahannes, who was born August 25, 1942. in Baltimore, Maryland, and died in Savannah, Georgia, on July 5, 2015.

As recently as April 28, Jahannes (as he was known to many of his friends) had started a new blog in which he stated his intentions as follows:

“This is the beginning of me putting my thoughts, observations, queries, photos and insights in one place for present, current, and past generations (it could happen…time travel) to read and witness that I made some small, if not minuscule, contribution to Planet Sol-3.”

Unfortunately, battles with illness and the drive to continuously produce creative works did not leave much time or energy for the planned blog entries. That does not, however, mean there was or is anything at all “minuscule” about the contributions Jahannes managed to make to the world community before leaving it. Proof of that statement may be found in the announcement that his latest play, “Thought My Soul Would Rise and Fly,” will be performed July 26, 2015, at the Jewish Educational Alliance in Savannah.

Indeed, anyone even vaguely acquainted with his name find themselves astonished when learning about his prodigious output as a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, an educator, minister, proud alumnus of Lincoln University (Pennsylvania), composer, playwright, poet, novelist, essayist, photographer, family man, community leader, publisher, and public intellectual.

Please enjoy the complete article by clicking here:
5 Ways to be geniuses together: Celebrating Ja Jahannes (part 1 of 3: the man) – National African-American Art | Examiner.com.

Some Notes on the Colors of These Changing Times: Editorial with Poem


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poem poster art copyright by Aberjhani)

Given the horrendous white-versus-black-motivated massacre in Charleston, S.C., on June 17, the jubilant rainbow celebrations that broke out following the U.S. Supreme Court’s historic ruling legalizing same-sex marriage nation-wide on June 26, and increasing calls to cease flying the Confederate flag on government properties, colors have commanded a lot of attention during these changing times.

The hues celebrated the most of course on July 4 in the United States are red, white, and blue. Many like to believe they stand for freedom, justice, and the American way. Officially, however, according to the House of Representatives’ publication Our Flag, red stands for hardiness and valor, white represents purity and innocence, and blue symbolizes vigilance.

But long before the founding of America’s democratic republic, visual and literary artists have used colors to create realistic images of external environments as well as representations symbolizing psychic responses to those environments…

Please check out the complete post with video at this link:
Some notes on the colors of these changing times: Editorial with poem – National African-American Art | Examiner.com
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Rainbow-Song for The Angel of Tao: A Graphic-Art Poem by Aberjhani

Rainbow-Song for the Angel of Tao poetry art panel No. 2 by Aberjhani
(Art panel No. 2 Rainbow-Song for the Angel of Tao copyright by Aberjhani.)

“Rainbow-Song for the Angel of Tao” is not typical so far as poems posted in celebration of National Poetry Month go. The 3 stanzas of the poem are described as verses and each one has a corresponding art panel created by the poet.

The visual panels and the text stanzas are mirror images of each other reflected in different mediums. That means they reveal different aspects of one another, like the light the art panels reflecting the forms behind the words; and the rhythm of the text echoing the harmony of the light. Definitely a National Poetry Month kind of thing: Rainbow-Song: The Angel of Tao. A Graphic Poem by Aberjhani.

5 Eye-opening Books about Slavery in Savannah (part 1)

Georgia Historical Society marker citing
Georgia Historical Society marker citing “The Weeping Time,” a.k.a. the “Largest Slave Sale in Georgia History” held in Savannah.
(photo courtesy of Waymark)

Two of the most acclaimed movies of the past decade, 12 Years a Slave and Django Unchained, have focused on the degradation, inhumanity, and absurdity associated with slavery as it was once practiced in the United States. Those who are surprised by this film genre’s ability to continue to command the attention of audiences around the world might want to consider the fact that various forms of forced servitude are very real in 2015.

In addition, just as the year 2011 marked the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the American Civil War, 2015 commemorates the sesquicentennial of the war’s end. It is therefore also the official end of slavery in the United States and reason enough for movies that remind viewers why so many fought against it then and why so many, acknowledged or not, are doing so now. For all intended purposes, the precise date of the end of the Civil War was April 9, 1865, when General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant in Virginia. Some, however, maintain it did not end until Confederal Gen. Edmund K. Smith’s concession on June 2, 1865.

A Functional Metaphor

Slavery as it was known in the past serves as a functional metaphor for the human trafficking that remains to be corrected in the present. Current estimates provided by the Walk Free Foundation place the estimated number of people enslaved across the globe at 35.8 million. The foundation has drawn some heat regarding the accuracy of this figure and how they derived at it. In its own defense, the organization’s website states the following:

“Measuring modern slavery is a very difficult undertaking due to the hidden nature of this crime. Surveys represent the most accurate method for estimating the numbers of people living in modern slavery…. Data from a total of 19 countries were obtained from random sample surveys, including the seven Gallup survey countries.”

Criticisms of methodological precision to the side, even the fact that organization members dispute an exact number of millions of people enslaved in modern-day times is something so incredulous that many prefer to pretend there are no real numbers at all.

For the TedTalks photography video on modern-day slavery and to read the complete essay by Aberjhani please click this link:
5 Eye-opening books about slavery in Savannah (part 1 of 2) – National African-American Art | Examiner.com.

Selma Revisited: from Violent Racism to Reflective Compassion (part 1)

3 Producers of the film
Left to right, Producers of the Golen Globe Award-nominated film Selma:
Dede Gardner, Oprah Winfrey, and director Ava DuVernay. (photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for AFI)

 The movie Selma, directed and executive produced by Ava DuVernay, opened on Christmas Day 2014 and rang in the New Year 2015 with domestic sales estimated at $1, 204,000 according to Box Office Mojo. Whereas there have been any number of films about the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. produced for television, Selma is the first major feature film on the great civil rights leader made for theatrical release.

The movie’s box office performance at the beginning of the year placed it at number 23 on Fandango’s list of “Top Box Office Movies,” and it currently stands at number 22. Both positions place it far behind “The Hobbit: the Battle of the Five Armies” ruling at the time at number 1, and “Unbroken” at number 2.

However, Selma played during the first week of its release in only 19 select theaters. It is set to screen nation-wide on January 9, just in time for the 86th anniversary of Dr. King’s birth on January 15. In honor of the fact that the movie would not have been made without the definitive role played by the people of Selma, Alabama, in the past as well as in the present, Paramount Studios announced that residents will be allowed to view it for free until the end of January.

DuVernay has already won the Los Angeles Film Critics Association New Generation Award for the film and it has earned 4 African-American Film Critics Association Awards. It has also received 4 Golden Globe Award Nominations. In addition to DuVernay, the line-up of producers includes Hollywood heavyweights Brad Pitt and Oprah Winfrey, who also performs in a supporting role as Annie Lee Cooper. Paul Webb provided the screenplay and among the exceptional cast that brings it to life are David Oyelowo (as Martin Luther King Jr.), Carmen Ejogo (as Coretta Scott King), Cuba Gooding Jr., Giovanni Ribisi, Common, Tim Roth, and Allesandro Nivola.

Technology and the Struggle for Human Rights

The story of the historic march from Selma to Montgomery is now a well-known one for many important reasons. It is obviously vital for the place it holds in the story of African-Americans’ ongoing struggle for social and political equality in the United States, as it is for the place it occupies in America’s attempts in general to refine its practice of the concept of democracy. In addition, it dramatically demonstrates the role which the evolution of technology has played in struggles for human rights in the modern era.

For the full article by Aberjhani please click this link:
Selma revisited: from violent racism to reflective compassion (part 1 of 5) – National African-American Art | Examiner.com.