Saturday, February 01, 2014

Celebrating 'Black History Month' with Direct Links to the Past

All photos in this collage taken by Seth Arkin. Images and vintage may not directly
correspond to the individuals, places and time period otherwise referenced in this post.
Today is the first day of February, which since 1976 has been officially designated as Black History Month in the United States.

While it is certainly essential that the oppression, struggles, accomplishments, artistry, contributions and strides of African-Americans be remembered, taught, commemorated and/or celebrated, it seems appropriate to do so every day of every year.

So although I initially thought I might write a piece highlighting a few of the many African-American (or just African) leaders, artists, athletes, activists and others who have enriched my life--and in many cases changed the world--it struck me as more organic to mine and link to relevant articles I have written since the beginning of 2010 (when I began updating this blog on a regular basis).

Several of the posts were reviews of shows I saw--which typically include a good bit of background on the performer--while others are simply tributes, perhaps commemorating a milestone birthday or significant event. 

Obviously this does not connote a comprehensive list of all African-Americans who have entertained or enlightened me over the past four years--let alone my entire life--nor certainly all who merit being highlighted and celebrated. 

I don't expect many to read all--or even any--of these past articles, and know that some of them have lost their accompanying photos or have other imperfections.

Yet while I didn't write any of these blog posts about individuals--or in some cases, shows or places--specifically because of the color of anyone's skin, I guess that makes me all the more glad to have appreciated the content of their character.

Denzel Washington

Paul Rusesabagina, real-life hero of Hotel Rwanda

Ernie Banks

Muhammad Ali

Reginald R. Robinson, a modern ragtime pianist

Al Green


Chuck Berry
Photo of a photograph at Willie Dixon's Blues Heaven
Foundation, the former Chess Records Studio

Chess Records / Willie Dixon / Muddy Waters

Keith Jarrett

Jean-Michael Basquiat

A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry

Crowns by Regina Taylor

Fela about Fela Kuti

Detroit '67 by Dominique Morisseau

Pullman Porter Blues by Cheryl West

The Trinity River Plays by Regina Taylor

Below are a few additional black heroes, performers and places that I saw, visited and/or acutely appreciated within the past decade but didn't write/post about, mostly because--as noted above--I didn't begin blogging consistently until 2010: 

The bus upon which Rosa Parks refused to move to the back.
Now at the Henry Ford Museum, Dearborn, MI
Nelson Mandela
Barack Obama
Rosa Parks
Stevie Wonder
Ornette Coleman
McCoy Tyner
B.B. King
Lonnie Brooks
Lil' Ed Williams
David "Fathead" Newman
Tom Morello
Arthur Lee (of Love)
Jimi Hendrix
Chris Rock
Robin Quivers
Ma Rainey's Black Bottom by August Wilson, starring Whoopi Goldberg, Charles S. Dutton and others on Broadway
Ain't Misbehavin' featuring the music of Fats Waller
Caroline, or Change
Apollo Theater, New York
Village Vanguard, New York
Motown Museum, Detroit
Preservation Hall and its Jazz Band, New Orleans

For the most part, the above does not encapsulate movies and documentaries I have seen about, directed by and/or starring African-Americans. These are just a few that I have watched in recent years and found quite worthwhile--with links to IMDB:

Marley (doc about Bob Marley)
Thelonious Monk: Straight, No Chaser
Bird (about Charlie Parker)
Maxwell Street Blues
12 Years a Slave

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