Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Sign O' The Times: Fort Stanton Park

Frederick Douglass (c. 1817-1895)
"Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe." -Frederick Douglass

Harriet Tubman (1820(?)-l913)
"I grew up like a neglected weed -- ignorant of liberty, having no experience of it."

Bethune, Mary McLeod (1875-1955)
"The whole world opened to me when I learned to read."

Vick (198_-2006)
Teddy Reads: Rest In Peace (RIP) Vick, we love u.
Note: The teddy bear is a makeshift memorial to someone who was killed near or on that very spot. I've never met Vick, but he represents so many young black men who are murdered on the streets everyday of any city, USA.


the prisoner's wife said...

just goes to show you that somebody isn't teaching our history to our kids. if that were a mural of Tupac, i'm sure it wouldn't be tatted up like so.

sidenote: when i was tutoring to a group of middle school kids, we were reading the autobio. of Fredrick Douglas. everytime i tried to get them to read it, they would groan. Douglas started to become sort of a punishment. like..."finish your homework or we'll bust out Fredrick Douglas"...sad, but true.

Stephen A. Bess said...

Yes, it is a shame. I don't think that they are pushing these figures in elementary the way that they did when we were growing up? The teachers are becoming younger and less informed themselves about blk history. You're right. They wouldn't mess up Pac or Biggie. They might mark up Kanye. :) Nah, he's cool.

NML/Natalie said...

I assume that the first 'artist' meant to write 'lynch mob'.... It's a shame what these people do. No respect.

Stephen A. Bess said...

ignorance is the key word here. Some of these kids just don't know there history or any other history. However, they do know the brief history of the corner.

nosthegametoo said...

I'm unfamiliar with this Vick. Would you mind sharing his story with your fans??

Stephen A. Bess said...

The teddy bear is a makeshift memorial to someone that was killed near or on that very spot. I've never met Vick, but he represents so many young black men that are murdered on the streets everyday in Any city, USA. I saw this as I was driving this weekend and decided to take a picture of it. I will also offer this as an explanation under the picture. Thanks for that question.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the kind reply. I know the July deadline will be made.
We need more words on pages by folks with heart and soul connected to the goodness of Mother Earth.

I appreciate all the quotes and reflections from folks representing humanity’s beauty and diversity. The Jean Toomer quotes touched me a lot. They reminded me of why I enjoyed reading parts of his collection of work called The Wayward and the Seeking (1980); Robert B. Jones and Margery Toomer Latimer, eds.. If you haven’t seen the book, check it out. I think you would enjoy it. I thought I would also share some other book titles, names of CDs, and movies that I found connected to some of the things you shared. See the list below. Please share more of the books and things you do. It really helps expand the universe that we all live in.

Your blog is the making of a wonderful memoir to be fashioned in a format similar to the one used by Hill Harper’s Letters to A Young Brother or a poetical memoir like Tim-m West’s author of Red Dirt Revival (www.reddirt.biz). I know you would enjoy Tim’m’s flava. He also hosts a local spoken word series called “Front Porch” at Mocha Hut which is held on the first Friday of each month. It features all types of folks, musicians, and singers. Great event!
Also, your words made me think that you were a cultural anthropologist, ethnologist and cultural critic. Lots of labels to say brah you was spittin’ some sureeous stuff … in the tradition of Mark Anthony Neal, bell hooks, Kevin Powell, and Clarissa Pinkola. Rock it.

Books, CDs, and Movies:

1) Books that remind me of Jean Toomer’s spiritual journey:

a. Opening to Spirit by Caroline Shola Arewa (wonderful book that shows the traditions of world sacred practices as they relate to living as divine energy beings

b. Any books by Ernest Holmes, founder of Science of Mind

c. True Love by Thich Nhat Hahn (Vietnamese Buddhist monk that MLK Jr. nominated for Nobel Peace Prize) www.plumvillage.org

d. Essential Teachings of Rumi

e. Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam – beautiful sacred poetry about loving God and life written by Muslim poet who was also a mathematician. He compiled astronomical tables and contributed to calendar reform and discovered a geometrical method of solving cubic equations by intersecting a parabola with a circle.

f. Pema Chodron’s When Things Fall Apart, Start Where You Are, and The Wisdom of No Escape – Pema is a Tibetan Buddhist Nun
g. Opening Your Heart and the Dynamic Laws of Prosperity by Catherine Ponder

2) Books that echo the power of the African American experience:

a. Dark Water by W.E.B. Du Bois (a collection of incredible poems, essays, literary sketches that show a very spiritual side of Dr. D!)

b. To Be Young, Gifted and Black by Lorraine Hansberry (collection of her essays, speeches, and plays – there is one speech from February 1964 that she gave in front of young Black writers in Harlem that I think you will find interesting. She talks about how black folks are love’s troubadours. It is a concept that bell hooks explored in several of her books about Black folks and love.)

Actually - move novel's title is based on the troubadour quote ...

c. Salvation, All About Love, and We Real Cool by bell hooks

d. The Black Woman edited by Toni Cade Bambara (poetry, essays, letters by sistas in the 60s and 70s)

e. The New Black Man by Mark Anthony Neal

f. Who’s Gonna Take the Weight by Kevin Powell

3) Books that celebrate the Afro-Latino in America experience: The Altar of My Soul", scholar Marta Moreno Vega http://altarofmysoul.com/main.htm

4) Books that offer insight into the African American and African kin folk relationship: Maya Angelou’s Gathered in Our Own Name – talks about her travels and stay in Ghana during the 1960s. Very enlightening.

5) Art
a. Chris Ofili – British Nigerian artist who uses collage and images from the 70s, 80s, and 90s in his work. Powerful. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/225737.stm - great article
http://www.artcyclopedia.com/artists/ofili_chris.html - images of his art

b. Amalia Amaki – ATL born artist and Univ. of Delaware professor – Work is incredible … boxes, collages, assemblages, paintings of images from Black life, music and culture.

6) Movies
a. Water by Deepa Mehta (currently playing in DC) – great movie about the lives of Indian widows during Gandhi’s hey day

b. Earth by Deepa Mehta (on DVD) – shows the struggles between India and Pakistan when Britain relinguished colonial control.
Storyline and cinematography in both movies were awesome.

7) CDs
a. The Far East Suite, New Orleans Suite, and The Ellington Suites by Duke Ellington

b. Marciac Suite by Wynton Marsalis (played a lot at Busboys and Poets)

c. Filles de Kilmanjaro by Miles Davis

d. Cannoball Adderly’s Bossa Nova

e. If you want to really know John Coltrane’s heart and soul, you have to listen to his wife Alice’s music – try Journey to Satchitananda, Universal Consciousness, and her most recent Translinear Light

f. John Coltrane’s OM CD takes you to places that extend beyond the normal Coltrane listening ear. You can appreciate the power of sound vibration in the universe after making it through this CD. It took me several tries before I listened to the whole thing.

g. Charles Mingus’ The Great Concert of Charles Mingus from April 1964 is my favorite Mingus CD

h. Awadagin Pratt, classical pianist … briiliant brotha -- http://www.awadagin.com/ favorite CDs - LIVE FROM SOUTH AFRICA A LONG WAY FROM NORMAL and BEETHOVEN PIANO SONATAS

Again a big thanks. Enjoy the day and the process. Until the next post ... may your cup continue to overflow...

Peace, Ananda

Anonymous said...

Great post Stephen. There's a drastic contrast/conflict between our self-perception/ deterimination today(2006) and the way our great ancestors and trailblazers perceived themselves in the 1800's, and even as late as 1950's, 1960's, and sadly the 1980's.

Stunuh Jay said...

This is my two pence on the matter... Spanking!!! And I'm not joking. The idea of defacing any horizontal architectural surface brings to mind my mother's shrill voice and a pati-pati (plastic flip flop!) It wasn't pretty but I knew that defacing anything was wrong... BRING BACK SPANKING!
It stopped the stupidity of daft actions, but left room to listen and instill pride... We don't behave in such a manner, we are such because of where we came. We have a tommorrow because we had a yesterday. Pride in self, and self worth.
Spank 'em!

Bougie Black Boy said...

okay, i've officially decided that you need to get into photojournalism... your comments are so short and sweet, describing this unmentionable uncomfortableness in the pictures. You're good.

Stephen A. Bess said...

I like that idea. Yeah, kids are getting away with way too much these days. One can only blame the parents. I remember when the teacher in public schools could pop you one. I'll never forget the time Ms. Smith popped me upside the head for talking when she said not too. I can still hear that little ringing noise. Haa haa! :)

That's a fantastic idea! I really enjoy it.

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