2014/03/15

Return to the ´60s

If at all possible, you must see this exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum: Witness: Art and Civil Rights in the Sixties
 Or if you can't get to Brooklyn, at least check out the website and the catalogue. But it's not the same as seeing the vibrant, sometimes chilling, often enraged, and at times oddly distant — a protective distance, the artist's self-shielding from painful emotion — of that terrible, sometimes joyous, often heart-breaking period of struggles for simple human dignity. Among the highlights: Romare Bearden's collages, a video of Nina Simone singing with full emotion "Mississippi Godam", a collage-construction by artist Jack Whitten called simply Birmingham : a newspaper photo from the bombing of the black Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama,  in September 1963, which killed four girls, at the center of an explosion of aluminum foil, stocking mesh, plywood and paint.
We revisited that era yesterday at the Museum, with the added joy of performance and talk by Sonia Sanchez, Bernice Reagon, and Bernice's musician daughter Toshi. They reminded us of the hope that survived, and the victories — never complete, but still significant — in those years of nonviolent struggle. Nonviolent on one side, that is.

4 comments:

Dirk van Nouhuys said...
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Dirk van Nouhuys said...

People interested in this exhibit and website, might also be interested in the veterans of the civil rights website,http://www.crmvet.org.

Baltasar Lotroyo said...

This from Pete de Lissovoy:
Bernice was one of the original Freedom Singers from Albany, GA. I knew her husband, Cordell Reagon in NYC, a very cool guy and a beautiful singer, one of the original Freedom Singers. He along with Charles Sherrod founded SNCC in Albany, GA. Sort of amazing that SNCC and the Movement in Albany GA had like world class music and singers to go out on the protests with from the likes of Bernice and Cordell Reagon, and Rutha Harris and the others. They went to jail too--and recently sang at the White House. Bernice was one of the very first marchers and protesters, for which she was expelled from historically black Albany State College (about a year ago they finally gave the expelled SNCC students honorary degrees). Gives you an idea of the terror and pressure in those days that the black college kicked out the students who protested segregation and Jim Crow which oppressed the black college. Bernice has some unusual, compelling and chilling stories of those days really worth reading in the book of women's stories from SNCC in those days, "Hands on the Freedom Plow" (U of Illinois).

Trey Greene said...

Thanks!
We oughta get over to the Apple in the next few weeks and we'll be sure to visit the Brooklyn Museum!

Bernice Reagon has been to First UU Detroit twice, or more perhaps, when I was not.

And Mary Adorno, who lives here, was Nick's first caregiver until he was old enough to go to day care. Mary would probably been a fifth bombing victim at Sixteenth Street: she attended church there and was close friends but happened not to go to church that day.