Speak Out

Zora Neale Hurston

Zora Neale Hurston, 1940

As I’ve been getting ready for my vintage event this coming weekend, I’ve been spending a lot of time perusing vintage photography on Pinterest. That’s where I first came across these photos by “Harlem Renaissance patron,” writer and photographer Carl Van Vechten.  I was immediately taken with the rich tones and texture in his photographs and find these images to be incredibly moving.

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Joyce Bryant, 1953

As I was lying in bed last night I remembered the poem Shake the Dust by black poet, Anis Mojgani, and pulled it up to listen on my phone.  I’ve loved this poem and Mojgani’s performance of it since the first time I heard it, yet I’d never explored any of his other work.  As I did, I was led to #BlackPoetsSpeakOut, “a poetic protest which began as a tumblr page hosting a couple dozens of videos of black poets reading poetry, prayers and mantras in response to Michael Brown after his murder in Ferguson, Missouri on August 9, 2014, and the grand jury’s decision on November 24 not to indict Darren Wilson, the police officer who fired the lethal bullets.” (via Poetry Society of America).

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Billie Holiday, 1949

As I clicked play and listened to some of the #BlackPoetsSpeakOut poems, I thought about the immensely powerful role that art and creative expression can have in dealing with human suffering and healing.  I thought about the way it offers insight into other’s experiences, and I thought about how important it is for all of us to turn to art as a mechanism to help us through times that leave us feeling helpless.

Thelma Carpenter

Thelma Carpenter

Below are just two of the poems posted on #BlackPoetsSpeakOut.  I hope you will click thru to watch.

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