Photo: Amiri Baraka | Joyce Jones
The next show will air on Sunday, October 19, 2014 from 11:00 PM – 1:00 AM Monday Eastern Standard Time on WBAI, 99.5 FM in the NYC metro area or streaming online at wbai.org. This installment of Suga’ will focus on the legacy of the Black Arts Movement and feature talks by Sonia Sanchez and Drs. John Bracey and James Smethurst of the University of Massachusetts Amherst at a release party for their new book on the Black Arts Movement, SOS: Calling All Black People: A Black Arts Movement Reader. You can hear a short preview below.
Sonia Sanchez, whose been previously featured on Suga’ in My Bowl, while best known for her poetry and central role in the Black Arts Movement, is also a playwright, activist, and educator. In her presentation, Sanchez recalls the origin of Baraka’s decision to come to Harlem and help organize Black artists and discusses the beginning of Black Studies programs. She also speaks about the role of the Black artist and what she expects of herself as a poet. Sanchez also talks about her discovery of the Schomburg library and Micheaux’s legendary Harlem bookstore and Malcolm X’s influential role in her political and intellectual development.
Dr. John Bracey is chair of the W.E.B. DuBois Department of Afro American Studies at UMass Amherst, where he’s taught since 1972. In the 1960s, Bracey was active in the Civil Rights and Black liberation movements in Chicago and has focused on this time period in his research. In his presentation, Bracey discusses Baraka’s contributions to the Black Arts, provides context for the emergence of the movement, and makes connections to current artists in hip hop.
Dr. James Smethurst is Professor of Afro American Studies at UMass Amherst. He is author and editor of several books, including The Black Arts Movement: Literary Nationalism in the 1960s and 1970s and The New Red Negro: The Literary Left and African American Poetry, 1930-1946. He is also working on a history of the Black Arts Movement in the south. Smethurst gives a timeline of the Black Arts Movement and discusses the role of Amiri Baraka in the movement.
SOS—Calling All Black People: A Black Arts Movement Reader brings together a broad range of key writings from the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s and 1970s, among the most significant cultural movements in American history. The aesthetic counterpart of the Black Power Movement, it burst onto the scene in the form of artists’ circles, writers’ workshops, drama groups, dance troupes, new publishing ventures, bookstores, and cultural centers, and had a presence in practically every community and college campus with an appreciable African-American population. Black Arts activists extended the reach even further through magazines such as Ebony and Jet, on television shows such as Soul! and Like It Is, and on radio.
Special thanks to the Center for Black Literature at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn for permission to record the presentations at their event and to WBAI producer Dred Scott Keyes, who gathered the sound and presented parts of it on his WBAI show Cutting Edge.
Show engineered, produced, hosted, and edited by Joyce Jones. Sound recording and engineering by Dred Scott Keyes. Listen for our On the Bandstand segment with NYC metro area appearances of Suga’ guests at the end of the first hour with Associate Producer Hank Williams.
This show will feature highlights of our premium for the fall fund drive, which is a 2-CD presentation of the book release event at the Center for Black Literature at Medgar Evers College on October 9, 2014. Discussion panelists were co-editors Sonia Sanchez with Drs. John H. Bracey Jr. and James Smethurst. For your generous financial support to WBAI-FM, you will be able to get a copy of this program. You can also support WBAI (and the show) by donating as little as $5 during the fund drive.
Photos: John Bracey via UMass Afro Am | Sonia Sanchez via Wikimedia Commons / Slowking