- “Those who have no record of what their forebears have accomplished lose the inspiration which comes from the teaching of biography and history.” – Dr. Carter G. Woodson, Founder, Negro History Week
- The University of Rhode Island Multicultural Center, the African and African-American Studies Program, the Office of the President, the Division of Student Affairs, the URI Feinstein Providence Campus, the Colleges of Human Sciences and Services and Arts and Sciences, the Center for Nonviolence and Peace Studies, Uhuru SaSa, the NAACP, ICON, the Underground Railroad, the Departments of Music and Sociology join forces to commemorate the nation’s 90th annual tribute to history and heritage of African-Americans. Unless otherwise noted, events are free and open to the public.
- Wednesday, February 1
- Who: Vickie Goff, Senior, Journalism, and Managing Editor of the Cigar
What: Senior Honors Project (Photo Exhibit): “Darfur: Genocide in the 21st Century.” (Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Judith Swift, Professor, Communications and Theatre)
When: 10:00 AM-5:00 PM
Where: University of Rhode Island Memorial Union Ballroom
- A photo exhibit acknowledging the more than 200,000 who have died, and the more than 2.5 million who have been displaced as a consequence of the century’s first genocide in Darfur in Africa.
- Sponsored by the Departments of Communication Studies and Theatre
- Wednesday, February 1- Thursday, February 23
- Who: Steve Pennell, Artist-in-Residence
What: “Strange Fruit: An Exhibit on Lynching and Hate Crimes”
When: M- Th: 9AM- 9PM, Fr- Sat: 9AM- 4PM
Where: University of Rhode Island Providence Campus, 80 Washington St, (401) 277-5206 http://www.uri.edu/prov
- The URI Providence Campus Gallery will explore in words and images the history of lynching and hate crimes locally, nationally and internationally. We will explore xenophobia on a historical level, as well as the continued realities of ethnic cleansing throughout the world. A Hate Crime is any criminal act against a person, group or property in which the perpetrator intentionally selects the victim because of the victim’s actual or perceived disability, national origin or ancestry, religion, sexual orientation, color, gender or race. Through artworks, images and information provided by the Rhode Island Commission on Prejudice and Bias, Southern Poverty Law Center, NAACP, Rhode Island Community for Justice and other local and national organizations for social justice, the exhibit will challenge viewers and prove an opportunity for reflection, dialogue and action. The exhibit features artwork, photographs, and news clippings from documentary filmmaker Gode Davis (including his film trailer) and artists Bob Dilworth, Ken Gonzales- Day and Reuven Wallack. The exhibit is serious and potentially disturbing due to the gravity of the topic and the level inhumanity involved in this type of violence. It is intended to inform and enlighten, not inflame.
- Friday, February 2; Wednesday, February 7; Tuesday, February 20
- Who: Everett Dance Theater
What: Performance of Improvisational, Interactive Dance
When: 11AM (Feb. 2), and 7PM (Feb. 7 and Feb. 20)
Where: University of Rhode Island Providence Campus, 80 Washington St,
(401) 277-5206 http://www.uri.edu/prov
- The February 2 Performance will be followed by a talk featuring documentary filmmaker Gode Davis, and a public forum led by Jodi Glass from the RI Commission on Prejudice and Bias with Don Cameron, Dr. Jose Gonzalez, Dennis Langley, Dr. Richard Lobban, Cliff Monteiro, Beth Olsen, Norman Orodenker, and Tom Palumbo.
- Sunday, February 11
- Who: Marcia Estabrook of the Characters Educational Theater of Boston
What: One Woman Performance, “Ellen Craft: Self-Emancipated Woman”
When: 3-4:40 PM
Where: The First Church of God, 209 Allen Ave., Peace Dale 401-783-8324
- This riveting performance highlights the heroic efforts of Ellen and William Craft, an enslaved married couple who made history when they first masterminded an innovative escape from bondage in 1848. In December of that year, Ellen Craft, a light-skinned Georgia slave, dressed herself as a man and boarded a train bound for Savannah. Her husband, William, posed as her slave. Four danger-filled days later, they set foot on free soil in Philadelphia, but this was only the beginning of their run for freedom. Follow their journey through Boston, Nova Scotia, and England as Marcia Estabrook reenacts this powerful story filled with danger, narrow escapes, victory and the love between a man and a woman united in their determination to be free.
General Public $8, Students $4, Family $19 in advance; $1 extra at the door. Recommended for ages 9 and older; child care provided.
- Tuesday, February 13
- Who: Amelia Boynton- Robinson, Civil Rights Pioneer, and Dr. Bernard Lafayette Jr., Director, URI Center for Nonviolence and Peace Studies, Distinguished Professor, and Civil Rights Pioneer
What: An Evening of Conversation (featuring the Selma Campaign of the Civil Right Movement), facilitated by Dr. Kendall Moore, Assistant Professor, Journalism
When: 7:00 PM
Where: Independence Auditorium, Independence Hall
- Born August 18, 1911 in Georgia, Amelia Boynton- Robinson became involved as a young woman in campaigning for voting rights and property ownership for African Americans and women through poverty stricken Alabama during the 1930s. While working as Home Demonstration Agent for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, her home and office became the center of the struggle for civil rights in Selma, Alabama during the 1960s. In 1961 she invited Bernard and Colia Lafayette of the Student Nonviolence Coordinating Committee to Selma to conduct a voter registration drive. In 1964 she became the first African American woman to run for Congress from Alabama. Dr. Martin Luther King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference utilized her home to plan the demonstrations known as the “Selma to Montgomery marches.” One of the marches held on March 7,1965, became know as “Bloody Sunday,” where she was brutally beaten and tear gassed by Alabama State Troopers. The dramatic impact of that event helped African Americans win the right to vote, when congress passed the Voting Rights Act of 1965. When President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law, Ms. Robinson was invited to the White House to witness the event. These and other events are detailed in her autobiography, Bridge Across Jordan. In 1990 she was awarded the Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Medal. She currently serves as Vice Chair of the Board of the Friedrich Schiller Institute, and a board member of the King Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta.
- Thursday, February 15
- Who: The Hermanos of Lambda Upsilon Lambda, and Friends
What: Open Mic/ Spoken Word
When: 7:30PM - 10PM PM
Where: Memorial Union, Atrium 1
- Monday, February 19
- Who: Alima International Dance Association and Michelle Wright
What: A Dance Performance, “A Night of Beauty”
When: 7:00PM-9:00 PM
Where: Memorial Union Ballroom
- “A Night of Beauty” is a charitable event brought to you by Alima International Dance Association and Michelle Wright. All the proceeds will be donated to Locks of Love—an established nonprofit foundation that makes wigs for disadvantaged teenagers experiencing hair loss.
- This show is to honor the heritage of dance, music, and hair. One main purpose of the show is to educate the audience about different hairstyles from the period of the 1950’s to the present. “A Night of Beauty” is a journey where you experience self-confidence, Self love and happiness.
- Thursday, February 22
- Who: Dr. George Willis, Professor, Education, and Discussant
What: Video Documentary, “Strange Fruit”, with discussion to follow
When: 4PM- 5:30PM
Where: Multicultural Center, Forum, Rm. 101
- Winner! 2004 American Library Association
Notable Video Award
- Strange Fruit is the first documentary exploring the history and legacy of the Billie Holiday classic. The song's evolution tells a dramatic story of America's radical past using one of the most influential protest songs ever written as its epicenter. The saga brings viewers face- to- face with the terror of lynching even as it spotlights the courage and heroism of those who fought for racial justice when to do so was to risk ostracism and livelihood if white - and death if Black. It examines the history of lynching, and the interplay of race, labor and the left, and popular culture as forces that would give rise to the Civil Rights Movement.
- While many people assume Strange Fruit was written by Billie Holiday herself, it actually began as a poem by a Jewish schoolteacher and union activist from the Bronx who later set it to music. Disturbed by a photograph of a lynching, the teacher wrote the stark verse and brooding melody about the horror of lynching under the pseudonym Lewis Allan in 1938. It was first performed at a New York teachers' union rally and was brought to the attention of the manager of Cafe Society, a popular Greenwich Village nightclub, who introduced Billy Holiday to the writer.
- Holiday's record label refused to record the song. Holiday persisted and recorded it on a specialty label instead. The song was quickly adopted as the anthem for the anti-lynching movement. According to the Center for Constitutional Rights, between 1882 and 1968, mobs lynched 4,743 persons in the United States, over 70 percent of them African-Americans. The haunting lyric and melody made it impossible for white Americans and politicians to ignore any longer the Southern campaign of racist terror.
- The documentary includes a moving recitation of the lyric by Abbey Lincoln and a powerful musical performance by Cassandra Wilson. But it's the footage of Lady Day herself performing her bitter and heart-wrenching signature song that stands at the center of the film. Holiday sang it until her death in 1959.
- Folk singer Pete Seeger, playwright and critic Amiri Baraka, veteran Civil Rights activist Rev. Dr. C.T. Vivian, and Milt Gabler of Commodore Records, which first recorded Strange Fruit with Billie Holiday in 1939, add their voices to the story.
- The schoolteacher who penned Strange Fruit under the pseudonym Lewis Allan was named Abel Meeropol, the same Abe Meeropol who adopted the two sons of "atom bomb spies" Julius and Ethel Rosenberg after their 1953 execution. The boys, now middle-aged, help relate the tale, illuminating the fevered world of art and politics in which they grew up.
- Friday, February 23
- Who: The Princely Players Gospel Choir
What: Performance of Classic Gospel Music, “On the Road to Glory”
Where: University of Rhode Island Fine Arts Center, Concert Hall, (401) 874- 2627, www.uri.edu/greatperformances
- The centuries old struggle for freedom by Africans in America, culminating in the civil rights movement and continuing even today, stands as a shining example of the power and dignity of the human spirit. The Princely Players have been featured on National Public Radio and the BBC and has been heard on the Smithsonian's Wade in the Water series and the Time-Life Civil War recordings
- The essence of this spirit is embodied in the music that was a part of the experience. Songs of hope and the quest for freedom are found in the struggle to survive the difficult and de-humanizing trauma of slavery. And these songs were the galvanizing force in the struggle against what must have seemed impossible odds. Amazing Grace, Steal Away, Swing Low Sweet Chariot, Go Down Moses, and Wade in the Water are all testaments that still speak powerfully to us today.
- In the tradition of the Jubilee Singers and the Fairfield Four, The Princely Players offer evocative and stunning programs on the enslavement and liberation of African-Americans. The eight-member ensemble has performed their unique program of spirituals, work songs, hymns, and songs of freedom at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center, Yale University, Ryman Auditorium, Little Rock's Festival of Religious Arts, and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC- among many others.
- With song and poetry from the earliest sources of African American music in this country to the civil war and the civil rights movement, The Princely Players deliver performances with superb voices and exceptional stage presence.
- The Princely Players have collaborated with Ladysmith Black Mambazo and the Nashville Symphony. Members of the ensemble have recorded with Nashville musicians Randy Travis, Danny O'Keefe, and Kathy Mattea.
- Tickets are $20 General, $15 Faculty, Staff, and Seniors, $5 Students and Children
- Tuesday, February 27, 2007
- Who: Uhuru SaSa
What: Open Mic/ Spoken Word
When: 6:00 PM - 9.00 PM
Where: Memorial Union Ballroom
- Wednesday, February 28, 2007
- Who: Latin American Students Association
What: Musical Performance with Historical Narrative, "Gifts of My Ancestors"
When: 7:00 PM to 9:30 PM
Where: Attrium 2, Memorial Union
- Born into a large, musically inclined North Carolina family, Calvin Earl, the youngest of nine children, taught himself to play the guitar at age seven. Considered a musical prodigy, he had his own weekly radio show by the gae of nine. He and his family toured the South, performing with some of the best known gospel singers of the era, such as The legendary Mahalia Jackson, The Five Blind Boys of Alabama, Rev. James Cleveland and Rev. Shirley Caesar. During his tour of duty in the US Military in 1972, he formed his own five-piece rhythm and blues band, “The Elements of Peace”, touring the Monterey and San Francisco Bay areas. After a brief business career, he began to write music and then formed a jazz band, “Calvin Earl and His Big Band Sound”, performing in southern California.
- Asked by Clarence Fountain to join The Five Blind Boys of Alabama on stage at the Long Beach Blues Festival in front of 12,000 fans, Earl experienced an epiphany, recommitting himself to educating and singing the original American sound of his ancestors, manifested in the spiritual, slave and plantation songs of the old South. Moving from California with this wife Christi, he discovered in New York City a venue that enabled him to advance professionally. In 1993, he recorded a CD, “There Is A Bright Side”,(Back to Basics), a CD which revealed the history and secret codes within the spirituals. During 1999 he developed a concert/lecture series for The Children’s Storefront School, an independent school in Harlem; and performed at the Lincoln Center Festival in New York City. Since then he has presented variations of his "Gifts of My Ancestors" at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Millennium Stage; the Brooklyn Museum of Art; and various schools, universities, community centers, churches, libraries, programs and conferences in New York, New England, and throughout the nation.
- In 2004, his most recent CD, “GRATITUDE”, presented further insights into his ancestral music. Joining him on this CD are Katreese Barnes, vocalist, songwriter, and Associate Music Director for the Saturday Night Live Band, who has produced and arranged grammy award winning albums by Roberta Flack and Chaka Khan; and Jonathan Mover, drummer, bassist, guitarist, and keyboard player. Calvin Earl's dynamic presentation invites visitors to experience the legendary story of how the African people enslaved in America created an original music--African American spirituals-- that enabled them to secretly communicate with each other, teach their young, record their history and heal the pain. For additional information, visit http://www.calvinearl.com/.
Schedule of Events
Southern trees bear a strange fruit
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root
Black body swinging in the southern breeze
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees
Pastoral scene of the gallant south
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth
Scent of magnolia sweet and fresh
And the sudden smell of burning flesh!
Here is a fruit for the crows to pluck
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck
For the sun to rot, for a tree to drop
Here is a strange and bitter crop.
For more information about Strange Fruit, visit www.pbs.org.