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

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.

Let’s Fix It: 7 Steps to Help Replace Legislated Fear with Informed Compassion | Aberjhani Author-Poet-Literary-Consultant | LinkedIn

Protesters in Ferguson, Missouri, hold large banner containing the many names of individuals known to have been killed in confrontations with police. (Photo: Reuters)

Protesters in Ferguson, Missouri, hold large banner containing the many names of individuals known to have been killed in confrontations with police. (Photo: Reuters)

More than half the states in America (currently 33) have laws which allow one individual to take the life of another and get away with it simply by saying he or she feared the person represented an immediate danger to his or her life. That argument in recent years has been used in a number of high-profile cases where exactly who posed a danger to whom was not at all clear.

Nevertheless, in the end it has been an African American (usually unarmed) who lost his or her life to a White American (usually armed––in the case of Trayvon Martin’s death George Zimmerman’s biracial background is duly noted), creating an apparent trend. Even mainstream media with its upbeat pop culture delivery has found it impossible to ignore the increase in that trend and consequently joined the ranks of those shouting it is time to #FixIt.

In this particular case, fixing it means correcting the tendency to give fear authority over one’s actions when encountering those perceived of as “different.” Also, in this particular case, it means not exploding like a suicide bomber in the face of inevitable change and opting instead to invest in informed compassion toward one’s fellow human beings.

An Ominous Iceberg

Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Kajieme Powell only a few miles from the same location, Renisha McBride just outside Detroit, Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida, Jordan Davis in Jacksonville, and Eric Garner in New York are but a fraction of the tip of a very ominous iceberg.

For the full article with list of recommendations please click the link:
Let’s Fix It: 7 Steps to Help Replace Legislated Fear with Informed Compassion | Aberjhani Author-Poet-Literary-Consultant | LinkedIn.

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.

Invitation to Ring the Bells of Freedom – Bright Skylark Literary Productions

MLK DREAM Manifestation of Hope Quotation by Aberjhani 750

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream was a manifestation of hope that humanity might one day get out of its own way by finding the courage to realize that love and nonviolence are not indicators of weakness but gifts of significant strength.” —MLK poster art with quote by Aberjhani courtesy of Bright Skylark Literary Productions.

Different roads provide diverse routes to freedom. For many, the path is an interior one. It first requires an individual to the clear from the landscape of inner beingthose areas overgrown with woody thickets of doubt and trauma or buried beneath swamplands of self-imposed limitations.

There are others––like the Americans who struggled for civil rights in the 1960s, and citizens of the Middle East and various African countries currently battling for basic human rights–– who take a more public journey to freedom. Their sense and experience of liberty is defined by interaction with the external dictates of history, evolving cultural persuasions, and dominant political trends.  Individuals such as these inspired the article Text and Meaning in Martin Luther King Jr.’s I Have a Dream Speech.

Whether the journey is undertaken within or without, the impulse to demand, claim, and exercise freedom ––not just as a politicized human right but as a fundamental tenet of human existence–– is as automatic as gulping air when first leaving the womb. It therefore is not particularly surprising that the King Center in Atlanta has chosen to conclude its 50th anniversary commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr.’s I Have a Dream speech with a “Let Freedom Ring” international bell-ringing event at 3 p.m. on August 28.

“We are calling on people across America and throughout the world to join with us as we pause to mark the 50th anniversary of my father’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech with ‘Let Freedom Ring’ bell-ringing events and programs that affirm the unity of people of all races, religions and nations,” said King Center C.E.O. Bernice A. King in a news release from the Center. 

To read the full blog by Aberjhani please click this link:
http://www.author-poet-aberjhani.info/1/post/2013/08/invitation-to-ring-the-bells-of-freedom.html

Catching up with Our Humanity – Guerrilla Decontextualization

“It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity…”– Albert Einstein

 

Guerrilla Decontextualization is a study of trends in social media, mainstream media, and general human conduct that focus on the practice of intentionally distorting images or information for the purpose of gaining influence or popularity. Examples of it are easy to spot in some 2012 political campaign ads when a candidate for a particular office tries to dig up dirt on another candidate and uses certain phrases from interviews (as well as private conversations) or excerpts from a video, to make it look as if that one phrase or image tells the whole story.

It may be that the only true or accurate context for any given event––i.e., the birth of an idea, a conversational exchange, a clash or embrace between two or more entities–– is the moment in which it occurs. Everything else is a slanted interpretation, leaning either more toward or away from unadorned reality. The lean toward truth, though it can be excruciatingly painful, is one that ultimately helps individuals and societies further define and experience the voluptuous complexities of what we call our humanity. The lean toward falsehood reflects an aspect of that same humanity but corrupts our greatest potential for its higher expression. The pendulum of history as we are experiencing it in this second decade of the 21st century seems to swing with sharp suspense back and forth between these possibilities. 

Please feel free to continue reading the post by Aberjhani by clicking this link:

Catching up with Our Humanity – Guerrilla Decontextualization.

Literary Movements and the 7th Anniversary of Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance

Flyer for Harlem Renaissance play “Shuffle Along” and photo of actress Fredi Washington. (graphics courtesy of Mark Darby)

My long-term romance with the idea that literary movements define and bookmark significant heroic moments in cultural history began long before I understood who or what had stolen my heart. Yet it seems to have been there for at least as long as long as earlier adolescent passions for playing football or running foot races. There can be little doubt that it played a major role in my decision to accept the challenge of co-authoring Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance (Facts on File) which documents and celebrates one of the most successful literary movements on record.

September 2010 marks the seventh anniversary of the encyclopedia’s publication. The fact that it continues to inform classroom discussions and to encourage further exploration of the 1920s Jazz Age says as much about the life-enhancing inspiration that our hearts and souls draw from literary movements in general, as it does about this one book in particular.

Patterns Begin to Emerge

It is possible that in my middle-school years-a time when I read more outside classrooms than I did inside classrooms– I came across allusions to America’s great Romantic, Realism, and Naturalism literary movements of the 1800s. I may have also stumbled onto references to the Harlem Renaissance , the Lost Generation, the Beats, and the Black Arts Movement of the next century; or to Europe’s Symbolists, Surrealists, champions of Negritude, and Existentialists. But chances are I did not have half a clue what any of these meant.

Some serious time would pass before I started connecting historical dots and pieced together the relevance of David Thoreau publishing Walden: or Life in the Woods (1854) only a year before Walt Whitman made his start on the journey that would become Leaves of Grass, and about nine years after Edgar Allen Poe became a literary immortal with The Raven and Other Poems (1845).

Patterns began to emerge as I noted Emily Dickinson quietly (and a little madly perhaps) scribbling soul-exploding poem after soul-exploding poem at the same time that Mark Twain’s deepening appreciation for Southern culture inspired him to produce a string of classic works-The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) and Huckleberry Finn (1884) being only two of his better known novels.

The bigger picture became even more focused with the arrival of the beehive of writers, artists, and musicians who generated, sustained, and immortalized the Harlem Renaissance. There were writers like Jean Toomer, Claude McKay, and Jesse Redmond Faucet spinning out novels and poetry at the same time that editors such as Marcus Garvey,   W.E.B. Du Bois , and Charles S. Johnson debated the merits of their work and sponsored regular cash prizes to keep the honey of their endeavors flowing. The activities of the Harlem Renaissance spilled over into the 1960s and 1970s Black Arts Movement in a more enhanced form. Where their forebears had left off, a new generation of wordsmiths that included Amiri Baraka, Ishmael Reed, Sonia Sanchez, Nikki Giovanni, and Haki Madhubuti stepped in and forged ahead.

More Recently

The new film Howl, featuring James Franco as Allen Ginsberg, provides some insight into how the Beat movement formed, picked up steam, and evolved to become the definitive voice of a generation. In a similar and yet very different mode, in the book Gabriel Garcia Marquez, author Ilan Stavans sheds a brilliant light on the fairly modern Latino movement known as El Boom. In addition to the Nobel Prize-winning Garcia Marquez, El Boom also gave the world the towering figures of authors Mario Vargas Llosa, Julio Cortazar, Carlos Fuentes, and Isabel Allende.

Similar scenarios have unfolded at different points in literary history on continents across the globe and within different cultural settings. If these movements were about nothing more than the origins of certain books, they would still be exciting but lack a meaningful depth of emotion, or engaging dramas of ideology that sometimes ended in cultural feuds and sometimes resulted in love affairs. In short, they demonstrate possibilities for different ways of being within polarized societies of people convinced they must live must each moment of their lives according to someone else’s interpretation of it. Or: according to a script which they were trained to recite from birth without reflections or questions on how effectively it served their lives, or how effectively their lives served it.

Please Click Here for Literary Movements and the 7th Anniversary of Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance Part 2

by Aberjhani
© September 2010

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