Tag: James Baldwin

Harvard University Acquires Copy of Unfinished Play “The Welcome Table” by James Baldwin

The Houghton Library at Harvard University has acquired a typed script of an unfinished James Baldwin play “The Welcome Table.” The manuscript is the 3,000 item acquired by the library archives since 1874.

James Baldwin
James Baldwin

One of the main characters in the Baldwin play, Peter Davis, is based on Henry Louis Gates Jr., the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and the director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard. Another character is based on Josephine Baker. In 1973, Professor Gates, who was working as a London-based journalist at the time, drove Josephine Baker to Baldwin’s villa in France, where the three dined together.

Henry Louis Gates Jr.
Henry Louis Gates Jr.

There are four known versions of the script that were written over the years. In one version, Professor Gates is a young man but in a later version he is a middle-aged man. Gates owns one of the other copies of the unfinished play. Another is held at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture of the New York Public Library. The fourth is owned by a private collector.

article via jbhe.com

Harry Belafonte Receives Academy’s Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award

belafonte_article_story_large

According to Deadline.com, Harry Belafonte was honored last night at the Sixth Annual Governors Awards of the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.  Belafonte received the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award and during his speech, galvanized the industry crowd by asking them to aim higher.

Belafonte gave one of the all-time great acceptance speeches at the Governors Awards, citing Hollywood’s often-shameful power to influence attitudes, and challenging the heavy-hitters in the room to instead create works that allow global audiences “to see the better side of who we are as a species.”

He reminded the crowd about “Birth of a Nation,” the early “Tarzan” films (depicting “inept, ignorant Africans”) and “Song of the South,” as well as the industry’s cowardice during the McCarthy hearings. He also referred to the industry’s decades-long treatment of Native Americans in films, “and at the moment, Arabs aren’t looking so good.” The industry doesn’t like trouble-makers and “on occasion, I have been one of its targets.”

But he said that “today’s harvest of films yields sweeter fruit,” citing “Schindler’s List,” “Brokeback Mountain” and “12 Years a Slave” as examples. He also thanked such inspirations as Langston HughesJames BaldwinEleanor Roosevelt and Paul Robeson, quoting the latter’s statement that “Artists are the gatekeepers of truth” as well as the radical voice of civilization.

He then called Sidney Poitier to the stage, recognizing the actor’s role in changing public attitudes toward blacks. And he added that he hopes things will improve this century: “Maybe it could be a civilization game-changer.”

Other Governors Awards winners were 94 year-old actress Maureen O’Hara, legendary Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki, and masterful screenwriter Jean-Claude Carriere gave a moving tribute to Hollywood’s “forgotten” writers.

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (follow @lakinhutcherson)

James Baldwin’s 90th Birthday Honored in Harlem; Street Renamed James Baldwin Way

James Baldwin in Paris in 1986.
James Baldwin in Paris in 1986. (Credit: Peter Turnley/Corbis)

James Baldwin, a Harlem native who died in 1987, would have turned 90 on Saturday. Among the many tributes in a year in which his legacy as a major writer is being celebrated, a portion of East 128th Street, between Fifth Avenue and Madison Avenue, was renamed James Baldwin Way.

Baldwin, whose classic works include the novel “Go Tell It on the Mountain” and the essay collections “The Fire Next Time” and “Notes of a Native Son” attended Public School 24 (now the Harlem Renaissance School) on that block. Nearby, the marquee of the Apollo Theater, at 253 West 125th Street,  read “Happy 90th Birthday James Baldwin.”

“We’re reclaiming him as a son of Harlem,” said Rich Blint, a Baldwin scholar and associate director in the Office of Community Outreach and Education at the Columbia University School of the Arts. The university, along with Harlem Stage and New York Live Arts, is participating in a citywide consideration of Baldwin.

In this year of all things Baldwin, some fans and scholars have expressed concern that his complex presence is fading in too many high schools.  “We want to reintroduce his contemporary relevance,” said Trevor Baldwin, a nephew who attended the Saturday festivities.

The writer was known for fiery works about race and for frank portrayals of sexuality, in novels like “Giovanni’s Room” and “Another Country,” as well as for his work in the civil rights movement.

“I want people to be interested in the courage of his life choices,” Trevor Baldwin said.

The street renaming concluded with a musical procession to the National Black Theater at 2031 Fifth Avenue, between 125th and 126th Streets, with readings from “The Fire Next Time” and testimonials from those who knew Baldwin.

article by Felicia R. Lee via nytimes.com

Edouard E. Plummer Guides Young Scholars in Harlem Through Wadleigh Scholars Program for over 50 Years

Edouard E. Plummer (CreditDavid Gonzalez/The New York Times)

Edouard E. Plummer works out of a room inside a Harlem public school that would be spacious — if it were a storage closet. Still, he has found a way to pack its shelves and cover its walls with a growing testament to a half-century of achievements that rival those of headmasters at the swankiest prep schools.

He would know; he’s friends with a lot of them. Since 1964, he has taken promising poor and minority children and, in one intense year, given them the academic and social tools to get into — and thrive at — the nation’s leading schools and beyond.

“This one went to Lawrenceville, then Yale,” Mr. Plummer said, pointing a worn yardstick to old news clippings and fliers on the wall. “This one, Peddie. Hotchkiss, St. Paul’s. This one went to Harvard undergrad and Harvard Law. This one’s a doctor. He ran for Congress.”

His smile betrayed his satisfaction. His words, however, underscored that despite getting more than 500 young people into 108 different boarding and preparatory schools though the Wadleigh Scholars Program, more needed to be done.

When he first set out on his mission, memories of segregation were fresh in his mind. He had attended West Virginia State University and, in 1949, applied to the Foreign Service. Despite having done well in history, German and biology, he was rejected.  “They said, ‘Thank you, but we have nothing to offer you,’ ” he recalled. “You know why they did that. It was the color of my skin.”

Continue reading “Edouard E. Plummer Guides Young Scholars in Harlem Through Wadleigh Scholars Program for over 50 Years”

The Good Things Black People Do, Give and Receive All Over The World
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