african american

The Creative Life: A Conversation Series at UAlbany is an initiative of the New York State Writers Institute, UAlbany Performing Arts Center, and University Art Museum, all of which are housed and function on the main campus of the University at Albany. Guests in this inaugural year of the series have included author Joyce Carol Oates and dancer/choreographer Savion Glover who appeared in September and October 2016, respectively.

The Manhattan Theatre Club's current Broadway production of August Wilson's Jitney, directed by Tony Award winner Ruben Santiago-Hudson, is the only work from the late two-time Pulitzer Prize winner's American Century Cycle that had never previously been seen on Broadway. The play has received rave reviews and plays at the Samuel Friedman Theatre through March 12th.

Set in the early 1970s, the play follows a group of men trying to eke out a living by driving unlicensed cabs, or jitneys. When the city threatens to board up the business and the boss' son returns from prison, tempers flare, potent secrets are revealed and the fragile threads binding these people together start to come undone.

We welcome this morning - three-time Tony Award-winning producer and actor Ron Simons, to discuss his role in producing the Broadway debut of August Wilson's Jitney.

Ron Simons is a leading Broadway producer with a list of credits that include the Tony-award winning revival of Porgy and Bess, the all-black Broadway production of A Street Car Named Desire starring Blair Underwood, and Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, which won the Tony award for "Best New Play."

He was the Wicked Wilson Pickett, the legendary soul man whose forty-plus hits included "In the Midnight Hour," "Land of 1000 Dances," "Mustang Sally," and "Don't Let the Green Grass Fool You." Remarkably handsome and with the charisma to match, Wilson Pickett was considered by many to be the greatest, the most visceral and sensual of the classic 1960s soul singers, and as a man who turned screaming into an art form, the most forceful of them all. He was the living embodiment of soul.
 

More than that, Wilson Pickett's journey reads like a guide to popular black American music in the late 20th century.  

For this first-ever accounting of Wilson Pickett's life, bestselling biographer Tony Fletcher interviewed members of the singer's family, friends and partners, along with dozens of his studio and touring musicians. Offering equal attention to Pickett's personal and professional life, with detailed insight into his legendary studio sessions and his combative road style, In the Midnight Hour: The Life and Soul of Wilson Pickett is the essential telling of an epic life.

What do you think of when you hear about an African American Republican? What is it really like to be a black person in the Republican Party?

Stanford University Professor Corey Fields’ new book: Black Elephants in the Room considers how race structures the political behavior of African American Republicans and discusses the dynamic relationship between race and political behavior in the purported “post-racial” context of US politics.

Drawing on first-person accounts, the book sheds light on the different ways black identity structures African Americans' membership in the Republican Party. Moving past rhetoric and politics, we learn the importance of understanding both the meanings African Americans attach to racial identity and the political contexts in which those meanings are developed and expressed. 

In a collection of essays entitled We Gon' Be Alright, acclaimed writer/journalist Jeff Chang (Can’t Stop Won’t Stop, Who We Be) takes an incisive and wide-ranging look at the recent tragedies and widespread protests that have shaken the country.

Through deep reporting with key activists and thinkers, passionately personal writing, and distinguished cultural criticism, We Gon’ Be Alright links #BlackLivesMatter to #OscarsSoWhite, Ferguson to Washington D.C., the Great Migration to resurgent nativism.

Chang explores the rise and fall of the idea of “diversity,” the roots of student protest, changing ideas about Asian Americanness, and the impact of a century of racial separation in housing. He argues that resegregation is the unexamined condition of our time, the undoing of which is key to moving the nation forward to racial justice and cultural equity.

Paul Kolnik

  Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater grew from a now-fabled performance in March 1958 at the 92nd Street Y in New York City. Led by Alvin Ailey and a group of young African-American modern dancers, that performance changed forever the perception of American dance.

In 2008, a U.S. Congressional resolution designated the Company as "a vital American cultural ambassador to the world" that celebrates the uniqueness of the African-American cultural experience and the preservation and enrichment of the American modern dance heritage.

Before his untimely death in 1989, Alvin Ailey named Judith Jamison as his successor, and over the next 21 years, she brought the Company to unprecedented success. Ms. Jamison, in turn, personally selected Robert Battle to succeed her in 2011, and The New York Times declared he "has injected the company with new life."

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater will perform at SPAC in Saratoga Springs on July 8th and 9th.

    Cory Booker made headlines in 2002 when, at the age of 32, he became one of the youngest people to run for mayor of Newark. Though he lost that first race, Booker went on to be the city's mayor from 2006-2013, before becoming a U.S. Senator representing New Jersey.

The former Stanford football player joins us this morning to talk about his political career so far, his endorsement of Hillary Clinton, his new book, "United: Thoughts on Finding Common Ground and Advancing the Common Good," and what he thinks it will take to get both sides of the aisle working together.

  In 2006, Tavis Smiley teamed up with other leaders in the Black community to create a national plan of action to address the ten most crucial issues facing African Americans. 

The Covenant with Black America, which became a #1 New York Times bestseller, ran the gamut from health care to criminal justice, affordable housing to education, voting rights to racial divides. But a decade later, Black men still fall to police bullets and brutality, Black women still die from preventable diseases, Black children still struggle to get a high quality education, the digital divide and environmental inequality still persist, and American cities from Ferguson to Baltimore burn with frustration. In short, the last decade has seen the evaporation of Black wealth, with Black fellow citizens having lost ground in nearly every leading economic category.

  All American Boys is a new novel from award-winning authors Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely.

In the book, two teens—one black, one white—grapple with the repercussions of a single violent act that leaves their school, their community, and, ultimately, the country bitterly divided by racial tension.

alh1/flickr

The skeletal remains of more than a dozen 18th-century African-American slaves unearthed in upstate New York a decade ago will be reburied.

  The new play Veils opens on Thursday at the Barrington Stage Company on the Boyd-Quinson Mainstage. This morning we meet the playwright, Tom Coash.

When Intisar, an African American Muslim student, arrives in Cairo for a year abroad, she hopes finally to be understood. She’s quickly enlisted by her liberal Egyptian roommate to help create a controversial blog debating the practice of wearing veils. Soon mounting political unrest threatens their new-found friendship.

Playwright, director, and dramaturg Tom Coash spent four years teaching playwriting at The American University in Cairo, Egypt. He was a Co-founder of the Offstage Theatre in Charlottesville, VA and has worked for such theaters as the Manhattan Theatre Club, Stageworks/Hudson, and Actors Theatre of Louisville.

  When Damon Tweedy began medical school, he envisioned a bright future where his segregated, working-class background would become largely irrelevant.

Instead, he found that he had joined a new world where race is front and center. Black Man in a White Coat examines the complex ways in which both black doctors and patients must navigate the difficult and often contradictory terrain of race and medicine. As Tweedy transforms from student to practicing physician, he discovers how often race influences his encounters with patients.

Albany is celebrating Women’s History Month this evening at City Hall - the public is invited.

Speakers will gather in the rotunda of Albany City Hall - Nathaalie Carey, is President of the Albany, New York Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.   "Tonight the leaders of all African-American sororities will be discussing our history, our legacy and our future, in addition to the work that we do right here in the Capital Region."

Soul Food Love

Mar 13, 2015

  In May 2012, bestselling author Alice Randall penned an op-ed in the New York Times titled “Black Women and Fat,” chronicling her quest to be “the last fat black woman” in her family. She turned to her daughter, Caroline Randall Williams, for help.

Together they overhauled the way they cook and eat, translating recipes and traditions handed down by generations of black women into easy, affordable, and healthful—yet still indulgent—dishes, such as Peanut Chicken Stew, Red Bean and Brown Rice Creole Salad, Fiery Green Beans, and Sinless Sweet Potato Pie.

Their new book: Soul Food Love relates the authors’ fascinating family history, explores the often fraught relationship African-American women have had with food, and looks to reinvent the idea of Soul Food.

  Civil Rights activist and professor, Colia Clark, will be the keynote speaker of the 16th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Labor Celebration "Step Up - Take Back the Dream" on Monday, January 19th at the William S. Hackett Middle School in Albany, NY at 12:30pm.

Former College of St. Rose, SUNY Albany, and Union College adjunct professor, Colia Clark is a Mississippi native who was involved in the Civil Rights movement in her high school and college years. She was a special assistant for slain NAACP leader Medgar Evers during the time of his 1963 assassination.

  As an organizer, writer, publisher, scholar-activist, and elected official, Barbara Smith has played key roles in multiple social justice movements, including Civil Rights, feminism, lesbian and gay liberation, anti-racism, and Black feminism.

Her four decades of grassroots activism forged collaborations that introduced the idea that oppression must be fought on a variety of fronts simultaneously, including gender, race, class, and sexuality.

By combining hard-to-find historical documents with new unpublished interviews with fellow activists, her new book, Ain't Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around, uncovers the deep roots of today’s “identity politics” and “intersectionality” and serves as a primer for practicing solidarity and resistance.

    Walter Mosley is the author of more than 43 books, most notably 13 Easy Rawlins mysteries.

His latest, Rose Gold, continues Mosley’s ongoing and unique achievement in combining the mystery/PI genre with a rich social history of post war Los Angeles.

  Mississippi Eyes chronicles the events and the powerful witness of five young photographers in The Southern Documentary Project, working during the pivotal summer of 1964 in the segregated South. Together they captured the sometimes violent, sometimes miraculous process of social change as segregation resisted then gave way to a new beginning toward social justice.

The African American Cultural Center of the Capital Region

This weekend marks the 10th Annual Albany Juneteenth Celebration. The free community event is planned for Sunday, in Washington Park.

Although the Emancipation Proclamation called for the liberation of Confederate slaves on Jan. 1, 1863, its effects weren't immediate.  Two and a half years later, the emancipation took effect—when the Union army rode into Galveston to enforce President Lincoln's executive order.

Juneteenth has been sporadically celebrated in the South as a black independence day ever since June 1865, when slaves in Texas learned of their freedom.

    For twenty-two years, under Founding Conductor and Artistic Director Anna Dubrova, Ne'imah Jewish Community Chorus has served as the voice of Jewish choral music in the Capital District, exploring a rich musical heritage ranging from original works written by contemporary American and Israeli composers to choral arrangements of existing Jewish folk and liturgical music.

For the last few years their annual concert has taken place at The Linda in Albany, NY. This year’s concert is entitled "Songs of Freedom" and will feature guest artist, Peri Smilow. Peri has been touring the world for over twenty years, emphasizing music that promotes social progress and breaks down social barriers. She joins us now to tell us more about her music and her career.

   Today, black-owned barbershops play a central role in African American public life. The intimacy of commercial grooming encourages both confidentiality and camaraderie, which make the barber shop an important gathering place for African American men to talk freely.

But for many years preceding and even after the Civil War, black barbers endured a measure of social stigma for perpetuating inequality: though the profession offered economic mobility to black entrepreneurs, black barbers were obliged by custom to serve an exclusively white clientele.

In his book, Cutting Along the Color Line, Vassar History Professor Quincy Mills chronicles the cultural history of black barber shops as businesses and civic institutions.

Seven Days Of Kwanzaa

Dec 24, 2013
Capital Region Kwanzaa Coalition

The holiday was created in 1966 by Maulana Karenga, professor and chairman of Africana Studies at California State University.

  We speak with United States Congressman, John Lewis, about his new book, Across That Bridge: Life Lessons and a Vision for Change.

Great Barrington to Commemorate Civil Rights Leader

Aug 22, 2013
Jim Levulis / WAMC

At a time when millions of Americans are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, people from the Berkshires are recognizing another civil rights milestone.

    Falling Back is a new book based based on over three years of ethnographic research with black and Latino males on the cusp of adulthood and incarcerated at a rural reform school designed to address “criminal thinking errors” among juvenile drug offenders.

State University at Albany professor Jamie Fader observed these young men as they transitioned back to their urban Philadelphia neighborhoods, resuming their daily lives and struggling to adopt adult masculine roles.

She looks to portray the complexities of human decision-making as these men strove to “fall back,” or avoid reoffending, and become productive adults. Jamie Fader is an assistant professor of criminal justice at the University at Albany, SUNY.

  We are very happy to continue our new regular feature on The Roundtable, entitled – Ideas Matter: Checking in with the Public Humanities. It is our chance to check in with the Humanities Councils throughout our 7-State area to discuss important ideas and why they do indeed matter.

This morning we spotlight MASS Humanities and specifically we’ll talk about Reading Frederick Douglass. Our guests this morning are Pleun Bouricius, Assistant Director, Mass Humanities and Don Quinn Kelley, Founding Co-Chair Lift Ev'ry Voice Festival.

  We are very happy to continue our new regular feature on The Roundtable, entitled – Ideas Matter: Checking in with the Public Humanities. It is our chance to check in with the Humanities Councils throughout our 7-State area to discuss important ideas and why they do indeed matter. This morning we spotlight the Pennsylvania Humanities Council and specifically, The Souls of Black Baseball.

Bob Allen, a former Philosophy Instructor at Penn State has spent the last ten years traveling in the United States, visiting and interviewing every surviving player of the Negro Leagues in an effort to preserve the history and stories of Negro League Baseball.

He is currently working on an oral history project titled, The Souls of Black Baseball.

    When America inaugurated its first African American president, in 2009, many wondered if the country had finally become a "post-racial" society.

In Ghosts of Jim Crow, F. Michael Higginbotham argues that America remains far away from that imagined utopia.

Members of MCLA’s The Allegrettos sang to welcome the announcement that the Lift Ev’ry Voice Festival is returning for its second season beginning in June.

The festival, which will again feature special events and performances celebrating the African-American culture and heritage in the Berkshires, was first held in 2011, and was attended by more than 30,000 people.

Festival co-chair Don Quinn Kelly said that the festival will focus on making the special programs and events accessible to attendees of all racial and economic backgrounds.

  The African American Cultural Center of the Capital Region is committed to educating, enriching, and empowering residents of the Capital Region through a variety of programs that raise the collective consciousness of all ethnicities to the rich and vibrant history, contribution, and culture of African Americans.

This Thursday, April 18th, The African American Cultural Center of the Capital Region will hold a Gala fundraiser in the Swyer Theater at The Egg in Albany, New York.

The evening will include performances of scenes from A Soldier's Play, by Pulitzer Prize winning playwright, Charles H. Fuller, a conversation with -and award presentation to- Fuller – and more.

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