Harlem Playwright Shaun Neblett to Honor Works of Malcolm X and Lorraine Hansberry at I, Too Arts Collective

Lorraine Hansberry and Malcolm X share a birthday on May 19 (photos via dnainfo.com)

by Dartunorro Clark via dnainfo.com

HARLEM — In an age of resistance and Black Lives Matter, a local writer is looking to the past to unpack present-day issues.In an ode to civil rights icon Malcolm X and playwright Lorraine Hansberry — both of whom share a May 19 birthday and a Harlem connection — writer Shaun Neblett is unveiling a play based on the pair’s works on Friday.

The play “Happy Birthday Malcolm and Lorraine!” will feature sets of vignettes performed by several up-and-coming playwrights who will discuss contemporary topics, such as gentrification. Since the two subjects share the same birthday, Neblett wanted to fold their ideas and words in with the work of current writers, whose “journeys have been paved by Malcolm and Lorraine’s spirit and relentless drive to sharpen the black psyche,” he said. “Beyond creating a great show, we are sending their spirits our gratitude and keeping their important teachings alive,” he added.

In doing research for the play, Neblett said he discovered a letter at Harlem’s Schomburg Center that Hansberry wrote to her local newspaper when she was living in Greenwich Village, saying that “people were coming into her community and trying to take over.” “It really speaks to the gentrification that people are dealing with today in Harlem,” said Neblett, who founded the Changing Perceptions Theater.  Another captivating draw for Neblett is the play’s location: the home of Langston Hughes, another historic Harlem figure.

The East 127th Street home was renovated and has been leased by a group of artists — called the I, Too Arts Collective — since last year to preserve Hughes’ legacy. “It’s just all a real sort of nucleus for this event and the meaning of it and the purpose,” Neblett explained. “They all fought in their own way to empower the black psyche.” Hansberry and Malcom X also have Harlem ties. He spent some of his most formidable years in the neighborhood, and she moved there in the 1950s, later writing “A Raisin in the Sun,” whose title was based on a poem by Hughes.

“They were both revolutionaries and they just went about the way they fought for liberation in different ways,” Neblett said, “but their ideas and thoughts were the same.”

“Happy Birthday Malcolm and Lorraine!” premieres Friday, May 19, at 8 p.m. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at the door or online. The show will take place at the I, Too Arts Collective at the Langston Hughes House, 20 East 127th St.

Source: Harlem Playwright to Honor Work of Malcolm X and Lorraine Hansberry – Central Harlem – DNAinfo New York

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture Acquires James Baldwin Papers

Author and activist James Baldwin (photo via thegrio.com)

article via thegrio.com

The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture at The New York Public Library recently acquired James Baldwin’s personal archive. The archive includes 30 linear feet of letters and manuscripts, as well as drafts of essays, novels, and other works. It also includes galleys and screenplays with notes handwritten on them as well as photographs and other media forms documenting Baldwin’s life and creative output.

“We are more than excited to have James Baldwin return home to Harlem,” said Kevin Young, Director of the Schomburg Center of the new acquisition. “Baldwin’s amazing collection adds to our ever-growing holdings of writers, political figures, artists, and cultural icons across the African diaspora. With the current resurgence of interest in Baldwin’s works and words, and renovation of our own spaces from the main gallery to the Schomburg Shop, the timing couldn’t be better for Baldwin to join us at the Schomburg Center. As a writer myself, I am eager for students, scholars and other writers—I count myself among all three—to have the opportunity to see his profound writing process up close.”

Malcolm X, Lorraine Hansberry, and Maya Angelou all have collections at the Schomburg Center and Baldwin was their colleague. His papers not only complement theirs, but offer researchers a fascinating look at the Civil Rights and the Black Power movements, through the works of these seminal figures,” said Steven G. Fullwood, Associate Curator of the Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division.

Source: Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture acquires James Baldwin papers | theGrio

BLACK HISTORY MONTH: The Best New Films to Watch this February

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Movies to see this Black History Month (photo collage via theguardian.com)

article by Rebecca Carroll via theguardian.com

Fences

If you’ve ever seen or read an August Wilson play, you know that writing is how the late playwright processed the world around him – a magnificently black world filled with funk and nuance in which language plays a central role. For Wilson, though, learning how to work with that language as a writer didn’t happen overnight. “For the longest time I couldn’t make my characters talk,” Wilson told me several years ago before his death in 2005. “I thought in order to incorporate the black vernacular into literature, the language had to be changed or altered in some way to sound more clear … until I realized that it’s no less romantic and meaningful to say, ‘It’s cold outside.’” As a play, Wilson’s Fences, which tells the story of a working-class black man – who was denied a baseball career in the major leagues – trying to raise his family in mid-century Pittsburgh, gives us that blunt romance and powerful meaning. As a movie, it gives us Denzel Washington and Viola Davis. Enough said.

Fences is on nationwide release now

Get Out

I don’t go in for horror films at all – not even horror film parodies – but I also can’t think of a brighter, more innovative voice in film right now than Jordan Peele, one half of the masterful sketch comedy series Key and Peele, which he co-created with Keegan-Michael Key. And while the potentially great Keanu, co-written by Peele and Alex Rubin, was a disappointing failure, Get Out, which Peele both wrote and directed, looks legitimately genius. The premise is a pretty straightforward Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner setup – rich white girlfriend brings her smart, learned black boyfriend upstate for a weekend to meet the parents – what could go wrong? It’ll be awkward, parents will remark more than once on how articulate the black boyfriend is, lecture them both on how hard it will be to maintain an interracial relationship in this day and age, and then finally concede that love is all that matters. Or will it?

Get Out will be in theaters February 24

Hidden Figures

In America, when it comes to the mainstream celebration of black historical figures, we primarily see the spotlight shined on our athletes, entertainers and a handful of activists who generally get depoliticized posthumously. Seldom do we hear about engineers, innovators and mathematicians, much less our black women in those positions. It’s thrilling and really quite long overdue for a film like Hidden Figures, which tells the story of “colored computers” Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson, who worked at NASA in the early 1960s and played a vital role in getting John Glenn and the Friendship 7 into space. As Katherine Johnson, Taraji P. Henson is on career-best form – pushing her glasses up on her nose, hustling to the coloreds bathroom carrying a stack of data research, doing mathematical equations on a chalkboard – creating a truly revelatory performance. Octavia Spencer as Dorothy and Janelle Monáe as Mary are icing on the cake. An added bonus comes in the form of Pharrell Williams, who is a producer on the film and wrote original songs for the soundtrack that give the movie a beautiful sense of joy.

Hidden Figures is in nationwide release now

I Am Not Your Negro

The thing about James Baldwin, beyond his utter brilliance and undeniable prescience as a writer and public intellectual, is that he was like the blackest man who ever lived. And he wore it like a badge of honor. In the newly Oscar-nominated documentary I Am Not Your Negro, Haitian-born film-maker Raoul Peck mines Baldwin’s unpublished writing about the assassinations of Medgar Evers, Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X to create an intellectual and visual mosaic that somehow captures Baldwin’s own very personal and stubborn sense of blackness. It hits hard, and the film will make you long for the leadership and integrity of Evers, King and Malcolm in these increasingly divisive times. But it will also, if only temporarily, let you sit in the glory that is James Baldwin’s company.

I Am Not Your Negro is out on Friday

To read full article, go to: The best new releases to watch during Black History Month | Film | The Guardian

Delroy Lindo to Join Cast of “The Good Wife” Spinoff on CBS

delroy lindo

Delroy Lindo (MEDIAPUNCH/REX/SHUTTERSTOCK)

article by Daniel Holloway via Variety.com

Delroy Lindo has joined the cast of the CBS All Access spinoff of “The Good Wife.” Lindo is set to play Robert Boseman, a lawyer who poaches Diane Lockhart’s associates and clients and threatens her ability to stay in business when Lockhart, played by Christine Baranski, falls upon financial hard times.

“Boseman is a character who dominates every scene, intimidates every lawyer, and is  beloved by every client. He needs to look like a Chicago lawyer, but have a Shakespearian  facility with language, and Delroy Lindo was really the only actor who came to mind,” said executive producers Robert and Michelle King.

“Obviously, we always loved his work in ‘Get  Shorty’ and ‘Clockers,’ but it really was his work in ‘Heist’ that jumps off the screen. It’s an incredible character he created and we are thrilled that Delroy agreed to come on board. Just thinking of his scenes with Christine Baranski and Cush Jumbo makes us smile.”

To read more, go to: http://variety.com/2016/tv/news/the-good-wife-spinoff-adds-delroy-lindo-to-cast-1201888336/

The New Yorker’s Tribute to the Schomburg Center for Research In Black Culture Is Everything

Newyorker

article via clutchmagonline.com

The New Yorker recently unveiled its latest illustrated cover, and it’s gorgeous.

Featuring Kadir Nelson’s stunning “Harlem On My Mind” painting, the Feb. 16 issue pays homage to the Schomburg Center for Research In Black Culture.

Nelson said he wanted his painting to be “a stylistic montage” that honors “the great Harlem Renaissance painters: Aaron Douglas, William H. Johnson, Norman Lewis, Jacob Lawrence, Elizabeth Catlett, Archibald Motley, and Palmer Hayden.”

Also included in the beautiful illustration are Black cultural giants Zora Neale Hurston, Malcolm X, James Baldwin, Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, and the Nicholas Brothers.

Denzel Washington, Taraji P. Henson Receive Awards at 2016 Golden Globes Ceremony (VIDEO)

2016 Golden Globe winners Denzel Washington and Taraji P. Henson (photo via eurweb.com)

2016 Golden Globe winners Denzel Washington and Taraji P. Henson (photo via eurweb.com)

Denzel Washington was honored with the Golden Globe lifetime achievement award, the Cecil B. DeMille, on Sunday evening, with his “Philadelphia” co-star Tom Hanks introduced him as an actor with the “mysterious power not just to hold our attention, but demand it.”

Hanks recited a list of legendary actors — Marlon Brando, Robert De Niro and the like — that command the most respect in the industry.  “The list is finite,” Hanks said. “The club is exclusive. But it includes the actor who is being given the Cecil B. DeMille Award tonight,” said Hanks.

Washington brought his family onstage for a speech that appeared to be cut short by a failure to bring his glasses with him. His wife reminded him twice that he needed them — and the second time, he agreed.

Washington has won Oscars for roles in “Glory” and “Training Day,” Golden Globes for “Glory” and “The Hurricane”, and has a long list of credits including “Malcolm X,” ”Flight,” ”The Manchurian Candidate” and “Remember the Titans.”

In his speech, he thanked his mother for convincing his father that the family needed light bulbs more powerful than 25 watts.  “God bless you all,” he said.

Another big winner last night was “Empire’s” Taraji P. Henson, who was awarded the Golden Globe for best lead actress in a television drama.  Henson, in honor of her breakout character, handed out cookies as she walked to the stage to accept her award.  To see a full list of last night’s winners, click here.  To watch Taraji and Denzel’s acceptance speeches, click below:

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (follow @lakinhutcherson)

Malcolm X Suggests Cure To Racism in Newly-Discovered Handwritten Letter

Recently discovered letter from Malcolm X (Photo via GARY ZIMET. MOMENTS IN TIME)

A recently-discovered letter reportedly handwritten by El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (aka Malcolm X) in 1964 describes racism at that time as an “incurable cancer” that was “plaguing” America.

Los Angeles historic manuscript and letter dealer, Moments in Time, retrieved the six-page letter, reportedly written by the civil rights activist. It went on sale Sunday for $1.25 million.

Gary Zimet, president and owner of Moments in Time, received the letter from a contact who discovered it in a storage locker in the Bronx, New York. Zimet has decided to keep the person’s name anonymous.

“It’s extraordinary,” he told The Huffington Post. “I haven’t sold it yet but I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before I do.”

The letter details a monumental period in the late activist’s life — his 1964 pilgrimage to Mecca, the year prior to his assassination in 1965 in New York City.  In the beginning of the letter, Malcolm X describes his pilgrimage as “the most important event in the life of all Muslims,” and goes on to explain why his experience was so enlightening.

Also in the letter, Malcolm X suggests a solution to solving race relations. The passage is particularly striking to read now, at a time when America is still grappling with racism. He writes:

 If white Americans could accept the religion of Islam, if they could accept the Oneness of God (Allah) they too could then sincerely accept the Oneness of Men, and cease to measure others always in terms of their ‘difference in color’. And with racism now plaguing in America like an incurable cancer all thinking Americans should be more respective to Islam as an already proven solution to the race problem.

The American Negro could never be blamed for his racial “animosities” because his are only reaction or defense mechanism which is subconscious intelligence has forced him to react against the conscious racism practiced (initiated against Negroes in America) by American Whites. But as America’s insane obsession with racism leads her up the suicidal path, nearer to the precipice that leads to the bottomless pits below, I do believe that Whites of the younger generation, in the colleges and universities, through their own young, less hampered intellects will see the “Handwriting on the Wall” and turn for spiritual salvation to the religion of Islam, and force the older generation to turn with them.

In regards to the legitimacy of this letter, Zaheer Ali, an oral historian who served as the project manager and senior researcher of the Malcolm X Project at Columbia University, says it’s likely this letter was actually written by Malcolm X.

“Based on everything I’ve seen, handwriting and context, I can confidently say that yes, this letter is his letter,” he told the Huffington Post. ‘The content is consistent, this isn’t uncommon. He was very prolific.”

Ali explained that the pilgrimage to Mecca had a profound effect on Malcolm X and that he often sent letters about it as a way to “broadcast” his message.  However, Ali doesn’t believe this letter should be for sale. “I don’t think you can put a price tag on this,” he explained. “Even though this is his personal correspondence, his intention was that this was to be made available to the public.”

Regardless, Ali believes the letter’s message, addressing race and religion, is particularly timely today.   “However this letter surfaced, it surfaced at the right time.”

Read the full letter here.

article by Kimberley Richards via huffingtonpost.com