Monday, December 31, 2012


Although "Watch Night" did not begin in 1862 (the Methodists had been observing it since the 18th century), its significance among black folks has since become magnified because December 31, 1862 was the eve before President Lincoln's "Emancipation Proclamation" went into effect--decreeing that enslaved people in rebel states were free. After that, many African American churches transformed their normal religious watch night services into an observance of the beginning of slavery's end in America.

On January 29 at Essex County College, the Humanities Division (with our co-sponsors, the Community College Humanities Association and the Africana Studies Committee) will be hosting a day-long conference, "Emancipation: the Meaning of Freedom," which will focus on the meaning of "emancipation" 150 years after the implementation of the order--how was "freedom" articulated then, and what do we mean when we talk of "freedom" now?

I look forward to sharing more about our conference as we move closer to the date--it will be open to the public! 


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

South Carolina "Exotic"

Ladybird’s “Eartha”/
With that penetrating gaze/
Stops you in your tracks. 

 Eartha Kitt (1927-2008), painted by Ladybird Cleveland, 1954.


Monday, December 10, 2012

Performing "Race" Week

“South Pacific” and/
The racial implications/
Of “Bloody Mary.” 

Juanita Hall (1901-1968), by Van Vechten, 1953.


Saturday, December 8, 2012

Living the Blues

Nobody knows you/
Sang the true “Empress”/
When you’re down and out. 

 Bessie Smith (1894-1937), by Van Vechten, 1936.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Remember the Soul

Art humbly triumphs/
When this dancer asks us to/
“Remember the Soul.” 

Robert (Bob) Curtis (1925-2009) by Van Vechten, 1955.

Please watch this lovely video of Bob Curtis reflecting on a life in dance and art.


Thursday, December 6, 2012

Bashful Lyricism

World’s greatest to me/
Talent with humbleness for/
This “colored orphan.” 

 Ella Fitzgerald (1917-1996), by Van Vechten, 1940.