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"Come See the Museum of African-American History" by Brandi S. Vaughn

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Gregory Lucas-Myers is a 2010 University of Michigan - Ann Arbor graduate, posse
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on Wednesday, 31 August 2011
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The Wright recently received a wonderful gift in the form of a poem by one of our supporters, Brandi S. Vaughn.

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Friday Poetry History: A Poem by Arthur Pfister

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Our fourth entry for National Poetry Month from the legendary Broadside Press is a poem entitled, "Granny Blak Poet (In Pastel)" and is dedicated to Mrs. Margaret Danner. This poem was published in 1970 by Arthur Pfister. Unlike our previous entries, this poem does not have a striking watercolor color scheme or added graphics to illuminate the words; this broadside is brought to life by the words themselves. The way that the words are spaced and the paragraphs are structured is the artwork. Does the placement of the words mean anything for poem? How does it tie in to the subject matter? That is for the reader to decide, but this shows how the broadside was an amazing artistic medium for the conveyance of poetry. It could make the very words of the poetry visual and well as literal art. It was art of a different time embodying the spirit of creativity and risk. It was art that could only have been created with great ambition. That was Dudley Randall's vision; that was the Broadside Press.

Collection: Broadside Press Collection; year: Poem 1970. Photograph courtesy of the Collections and Exhibitions department of the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History (http://chwmuseum.org). Research, caption and scanning by Derek Thomas Sojda. For more information please contact the Louise Lovett Wright Library and Robert L. Hurst Research Center at (313) 494-5840 or via email at  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .  For this and other informative posts, please visit http://chwmuseum.org/explore/blog.

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Friday Poetry History: All I Gotta Do by Nikki Giovanni

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April is National Poetry Month, so instead of historical photographs, we will be featuring African-American poetry that was published by Detroit's own Broadside Press. The poems are each printed on colored paper, and each has a distinct look and style. Some of these poems have been autographed by the author. This week we will be featuring a poem from Nikki Giovanni.

Broadside Press was started by lifelong Detroiter and poet Dudley Randall in 1965. When he was 13 he had a poem published in the Detroit Free Press. Over the years he earned degrees from Wayne State University and the University of Michigan in English and Library Science, respectively. He would move away for some years, but he returned to Detroit in 1956 and worked at the Wayne County Federated Library System as head of the reference-inter loan department. His most well know poem, 'Ballad of Birmingham' was a response to the 1963 bombing of a Baptist church. He continued to publish poetry and collections of poetry throughout the 1960s and 70s. In 1981 he was named Poet Laureate of the City of Detroit by Mayor Coleman Young. He died in 2000.

For more information on Dudley Randall please visit http://www.english.illinois.edu/maps/poets/m_r/randall/life.htm.

Collection: Broadside Press Collection; year: 1970. Photograph courtesy of the Collections and Exhibitions department of the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History (http://chwmuseum.org). Research, caption and scanning by Derek Thomas Sojda.  For more information please contact the Louise Lovett Wright Library and Robert L. Hurst Research Center at (313) 494-5840 or via email at  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .  For this and other informative posts, please visit http://chwmuseum.org/explore/blog.

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As part of its programming for Black History Month, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History hosts two separate poetry performances that honor the great literary traditions of African American writers.  Both events will take place at the museum, located at 315 East Warren Avenue in Detroit’s Midtown, and are made possible by the generous support of PNC Bank.

“PNC demonstrates its commitment to diversity through a wide variety of initiatives and programs, including serving as presenting sponsor for these important performances,” said PNC Regional President for Southeast Michigan Ric DeVore.  “This program offers a rare opportunity to celebrate the genius of contemporary and legendary African-American poets.”

On Valentine’s Day, Monday February 14 at 7:30 pm, Love and Revolution - a Celebration of the Culture and People We Adore features a duet performance by Ras Baraka and jessica Care moore.  The son of revered poet-activists Amina and Imamu Amiri Baraka, Ras Baraka inherited their proud tradition of artistic excellence and community activism. The Newark, New Jersey-based poet, author, community activist, father and educator is the author of Black Girls Learn Love Hard and also serves as a councilman of his hometown.  Five-time Night at the Apollo champion jessica Care moore is the author of The Words Don't Fit in My Mouth, The Alphabet Verses The Ghetto, God is Not an American, and a forthcoming book of essays, Literary Apartheid.  She has performed her poems and solo theater shows all over the United States, in South Africa, and across Europe.  Special musical guests will include Sax Appeal, cellist Cecelia Sharpe and Stevie Soul.  A book signing will follow the performances.  Tickets for this event are $10 / $7 for museum members, include dessert and a drink, and can be purchased online at www.brownpapertickets.com or by phone at 800-838-3006.  For more information please visit http://chwmuseum.org/upcoming-events/details/134-love-and-revolution-a-valentines-poetry-performance-

On Sunday February 20 at 4 pm, We Remember You: An Afternoon in the Company of Poetry Masters features Dr. Haki R. Madhubuti and Dr. Sonia Sanchez as they celebrate the voices and verses of Langston Hughes, James Baldwin, Etheridge Knight, Gwendolyn Brooks, Lucille Clifton, Audre Lorde, Zora Neal Hurston and Dudley Randall.  Dr. Haki Madhubuti is a master poet, essayist, editor, publisher and founder of Third World Press.  A native Detroiter, Dr. Madhubuti has authored 40 titles and, along with seminal forces in literature like Sonia Sanchez and Amiri Baraka, helped launch the Black Literary Arts Movement.  He is the founder of the Creative Writing concentration program at Chicago State University and its former chair and distinguished professor before his retirement in 2010.  Sonia Sanchez is a poet, activist, mother, and scholar whose work speaks of issues ranging from peace to women's liberation to racial justice.  A lifetime activist for social change, Sonia participated in the Black Arts Movement and the Black Arts Repertoire Theater, helped found the first Black studies program in the United States, and has taught many free courses at community venues and prisons.  For her outstanding work, Sonia has received both the Robert Frost Medal for distinguished lifetime service to American poetry and the Langston Hughes Poetry Award.  This event is free and open to the public. For more information please visit http://chwmuseum.org/upcoming-events/details/136-we-remember-you-an-afternoon-of-poetry-from-haki-madhubuti-a-sonia-sanchez

Founded in 1965 and located in Detroit’s Cultural Center, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History is the world's largest institution dedicated to the African American experience.  For more information, please visit http://www.chwmuseum.org.

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Black Statue of Liberty as Performed at the Apollo Theater

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The poem I read on "It's Showtime At The Apollo" in 1995 changed my life.  I wrote that poem while I was still living on Detroit's West Side and I’d never been to NYC. I wanted to write a poem, at 21, that celebrated women of color, girls that looked like all of my girls. I didn't know the full history of NY's Statue of Liberty when I wrote my poem, and of course, I would later learn that the original statue was actually an African woman breaking shackles off her ankles and arms.

This is the poem. It was later published in my first book, The Words Don't Fit in My Mouth.

Black Statue of Liberty
by jessica Care moore

I stand still above an Island Fists straight in the air Scar on my face Long braids in my hair
People fly from all over just to swim near my tide or climb up my long flight of stairs but they trip on their shoe string lies piece by piece they shipped my body to this country
now that i'm here
your people don't want me
I'm a symbol of freedom
but i'm still not free
I suffer from race, class and gender in equality
I wear a crown of knowledge cause i'm a conscious queen my mask is one of happiness but my history here if full of misery, done deliberately

I am america's true statue of liberty cause liberty is just old mother nature and although you don't love her she'll never hate ya she's earth, wind and fire don't tempt him to show her power turning all weeds to flowers looking into her wise eyes will make a blind man see how can you dare name a Eurocentric girl after me?

Assata Shakur Barbara Jordan Nikki Giovanni  and Angela Davis

These are the true symbols of liberty
But that stone faced french women ain't gonna save us the same folks who enslaved us I'm sitting at the back of the bus cause i feel like it I play ball not cause you pay me to dunk it dribble it or hike it

Taking all my people back home and breaking them mentally free.

I'm the walking talking breathing statue of liberty
I sweep crack pipes out school yards I nurture my man when times are hard
So, where's out statue??
What's a liberated woman gotta do?

place my name in wet cement every month i pay the rent put my silhouette on a stamp
i'm not a ho slut or tramp
my children aren't on crack and either am i
I wanna see the words
"Go strong black woman" When the good year blimp flies by.

I can bake cookies, bare babies, resides of revolutions

Get rings out of tubs, wear a suit, slick my hair back or tie it in braids
My aura is unafraid
So, no statue in the big apple can mess with me.
I'm the walking, talking, breathing, surviving
Black Statue of Liberty

Copyright 1996 Moore Black Press.

jessica Care moore is an internationally renowned poet, playwright, actor, activist, producer and CEO of Moore Black Press.  She is the author of The Words Don't Fit in My Mouth, The Alphabet Verses The Ghetto, God is Not an American, and a forthcoming book of essays, Literary Apartheid.  She has performed her poems and solo theater shows all over the United States, in South Africa, and across Europe.  From her Broadway performances at Carnegie Hall, or Harlem's Apollo Theater, London's Institute of Contemporary Arts, to New York's Jazz at Lincoln Center, moore believes poems belong everywhere and to everyone.  Her new show, The Missing Project: Pieces of the D is an international storytelling live art music show that features an experimental jazz orchestra and the work of graffiti artist Antonio "Shades" Agee.  Her debut rock album, Black Tea, will be completed soon.  moore continues to push the boundaries of genre, with her first conceptual art installation, NANOC: I Sing The Body Electric, opening at Dell Pryor Gallery in 2011.  She lives in Detroit, where she is completing her memoir, Love is Not the Enemy, and raising the 4-year old love of her life, King Thomas James Moore Poole.

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