Many Inspired by Amazing Grace of Young Brotherhood Advocate Semaj Clark

Advocate for brotherhood Semaj Clark giving thumbs Up GoFundSemajBrotherhood ambassador and advocate for nonviolent conflict resolution Semaj Clark. (photo courtesy of Gofundme)

The cost of the public health crisis of gun violence in America grows more expensive by the day. It has surpassed even the mega-millions of dollars that gun advocates such as members of the National Rifle Association casually spend to counter efforts to implement the most basic sensible forms of responsible gun legislation.

The greater cost is in that of lives lost or irreparably damaged. Sometimes the damage takes the form of psychological trauma experienced by those who have lost loved ones to the violence and for whom monetary compensation does nothing to ease their inconsolable grief. Recent reports on an attempt by Gloria Darden, mother of the late Freddie Gray, to commit suicide, underscores that point. Moreover, it represents only one example.

What happened to Semaj Clark when he chose to speak out against the violence he saw destroying too many young lives represents another deeply troubling instance. Yet his story is one which this compelling millennial crusader for brotherhood refuses to allow to be defined by the word “tragedy.” Considering what doctors have said about the likely results of the gun violence inflicted upon Semaj, his amazing grace is truly inspiring.

To learn about Semaj Clark’s extraordinary story please click the link below:

Millennial on a Mission to Promote Brotherhood

Aberjhani

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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

Red Summer: Text and meaning in Claude McKay’s “If We Must Die” (part 1 of 4)

The summer of 2015 marks the 96th anniversary of the publication of Harlem Renaissance poet Claude McKay’s masterful poem, “If We Must Die.” This essay is presented in commemoration of that literary milestone and in remembrance of the extraordinary Red Summer of 1919 that inspired it.

There were many good reasons to believe America had entered––or at least was about to enter––a golden era of post-racialism following the election of Barack Obama in 2008. Among them was the election of the country’s first African-American president itself, an increasingly diverse American population, and a sociopolitical landscape made more democratic (in appearance at least) by the various influences of technological innovation.

Unfortunately, none of those good noble reasons were able to withstand the onslaught of reality as the number of hate groups in the country began to increase almost immediately, even while the Black prison population and Black unemployment rates continued to do the same. In a word, the country was nowhere near “there” yet.

Red Summers of Yesterday and Today

The growing number of cities where protest demonstrations have occurred over the past few years in response to extreme uses of force by policemen against African Americans, and the very oppressive conditions under which many African Americans continue to live, is eerily similar to another riot-filled time in U.S. history. The period which might first come to mind for most people is the 1960s, a decade in which “race riots” flared up every other year in places such as Greensboro, N.C. (1960), Los Angeles (Watts), Calif. (1964), Detroit, Michigan (1967), and Baltimore (1968).

However, the historical moment which possibly resembles the current intense state of racial affairs the most is that of the period leading up to the Red Summer of 1919. As pointed out in Facts on File’s Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance:

To enjoy this complete article by Aberjhani with accompanying video please click below:

Red Summer: Text and meaning in Claude McKay’s “If We Must Die” (part 1 of 4) – National African-American Art | Examiner.com.

Text and Meaning in Elemental the Power of Illuminated Love (part 2 of 3)

          Video cover image for the music and poem video “Angel of Better Days to Come.”

One example of ELEMENTAL, The Power of Illuminated Love’s principal themes would be the painting “Christ Listening to Stereo.” It depicts a youth on a bus in New York City. The image reveals how the youth is at once physically part of a larger setting while remaining, via his personal stereo, completely separate from it. Immersed in his interior pleasures, he claims a connection to the creative artist who made the music and who allows him to not only share in the expressed creative passion, but to utilize the same as a kind of soundtrack for his own anticipations, memories, desires, needs, or fears of the moment. 

Similar and yet very different scenes are frequently enacted in such public spaces as parks, malls, back yards, office buildings, clubs, and street corners. They all make the person part of a larger whole even while many individuals continue to exist primarily as isolated fragments of that whole. The following poem published in the book takes its title from the painting:

To continue reading the poem and full post by Aberjhani please click the link:
Text and Meaning in Elemental the Power of Illuminated Love (part 2 of 3) – National African-American Art | Examiner.com.

Literary Passion and the City of Savannah-Georgia

James Alan McPherson public release image

 Author James Alan McPherson (public release photograph)

One of the greatest authors of our 21st century times is a man who made history in the previous century when he became the first African-American to win the Pulitzer Prize in fiction: James Alan McPherson, a native of Savannah, Georgia, born September 16, 1943.

Unlike many of today’s celebrated public intellectuals, Mr. McPherson tends to play down his celebrity status and opts instead to put the greater part of his energies into teaching and writing. His absence from high-profile media events, however, has not stopped fans and commentators celebrating his life and legacy as represented by such books as Hue and Cry (1968), Elbow Room (1977, for which he won the Pulitzer) and Crabcakes (1998).

The Pinterest board titled “Literary Passion and the City of Savannah-Georgia” was constructed both as an acknowledgement of the city’s extraordinary cultural heritage and as a tribute to Mr. McPherson, who as adult has now spent much of his life in Iowa as an esteemed instructor for the famous Iowa Writers’ Workshop.

Follow Author-Poet Aberjhani’s board Literary Passion and the City of Savannah-Georgia on Pinterest.

Notebook on Michael Brown, Kajieme Powell, and W.E.B. Du Bois (part 1 of 2)

“No one seems to think it significant that upon the policemen’s arrival Kajieme Powell possibly had reason to fear for his life and reacted in a manner consistent with his disability.” ––Article excerpt (Aberjhani)

“Democracy is not a gift of power, but a reservoir of knowledge.” –– from The Wisdom of W.E.B. Du Bois

The month of August happens to be one in which a number of notable events in African-American history, relatively recent in historical terms, have occurred. There are the birthdays of such celebrated individuals as author James Baldwin (Aug. 2), President Barack Obama (Aug. 4), and philanthropist and performing artist Michael Jackson (Aug. 29).

From this point forward, people shall also certainly recall August 9, 2014, as the day when 18-year-old’s Michael Brown’s death served to ignite a series of violent night-time protests eerily reminiscent of similar scenes from the 1960s. The chaos also functioned as yet one more reminder of how readily the lives of African-American men are deleted from this world by violence.

With the 2009 killing of 22-year-old Oscar Grant in Oakland, Calif., the 2011 execution of Savannah’s 42-year-old Troy Anthony Davis, the 2012 shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida, and the currently-pending case of 17-year-old Kendrick Johnson found dead in a rolled-up wrestling mat at his school in Lowndes County, Georgia, so fresh in recent memory, such a reminder was hardly necessary.

But there it painfully is. As Jaeah Lee reported in Mother Jones and others have written elsewhere, similar occurrences are far more frequent than many might imagine. This reality is nothing like advantageous diversity that many multiculturalists prefer to believe is possible for the United States. It also says much more about the cost of romanticizing faith in guns and violence than lawmakers and lobbyists seem willing to acknowledge.

To read the full special report article by Aberjhani please click here:
Notebook on Michael Brown, Kajieme Powell, and W.E.B. Du Bois part 1 of 2 – National African-American Art | Examiner.com.

Text and Meaning in Robert Frost’s Dedication: For John F. Kennedy (part 2 of 2)


A visitor at the Kennedy Museum in Hyannis, Massachusetts, views stories about
John F. Kennedy’s assassination. (Reuters photo)

Since Robert Frost’s debut of the role of inaugural poet 52 years ago, the list of those who have followed in his footsteps––with two white males, two African-American women, and one openly gay Latino man among them–– comes close to representing the country’s increasingly diverse population.

The following short list includes the poets with the titles of the poems they recited: James Dickey (1977) “The Strength of Fields” (poem recited after actual inauguration ceremony); recipient of the 2013 Literarian Award Maya Angelou (1993) “On the Pulse of Morning”; Miller Williams (1997) “Of History and Hope”; Elizabeth Alexander (2009) “Praise Song for the Day”; and Richard Blanco (2013) “One Day.”

Frost branded his inaugural poem with the same mystically intense passion for the American landscape and character that qualifies many of his other celebrated works. But the poem also serves as a record of the history which poetry itself was making with its inclusion in a definitively political event.

On the day after President Kennedy’s inauguration ceremony, the New York Times published an abbreviated version of Frost’s inaugural poem with the title “The Preface.” Slightly edited versions of the entire poem itself, like the one that follows, exist in a number of collections and pages from one such manuscript may be viewed on the Library of Congress’s American Memory Manuscripts archive site:

Dedication: For John F. Kennedy, His Inauguration,
With Some Preliminary History in Rhyme

To read Robert Frost’s classic poem and this full article by Aberjhani please click the link:

Text and meaning in Robert Frost’s Dedication: For John F. Kennedy (part 2 of 2) – National African-American Art | Examiner.com.