Abortion & Health Bill
NO NUKES, AGAIN
Gay Marriage in DC
What Did We Get?
El Salvador Mining
Science & Art
M*A*S*H & Murder
Hell & High Water
The Earth Shook
Zaps - 05-10
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“Revolutionary” (1971) Jae Jarrell
“Uhuru” (1971) Nelson Stevens
“Uphold Your Men” (1971) Carolyn Lawrence
“Victory in the Valley of Eshu” (71) J Donaldson
“Black Family” (1968) Jae Jarrell
“Unite” (1969-71) Barbara Jones-Hogu
The birth of the 1960's Black Arts Movement ignited an important cultural event among its participants. Many African American musicians, poets, writers, and visual artists began to turn their craft to address themes of Black pride, self-determination, and Black culture. Emerging from this movement was a unique Chicago-based artists' collective, calling themselves first COBRA (Coalition of Black Revolutionary Artists) in 1968 and then in 1969, AfriCOBRA (African Commune of Bad Relevant Artists). In Evanston, Illinois from February 17 to March 17, the Dittmar Memorial Gallery in the Norris University Center at Northwestern University displayed a retrospective of selected works from this group. The exhibited artists included Jeff Donaldson, Wadsworth Jarrell, Barbara Jones-Hogu, Jae Jarrell, Gerald Williams, Carolyn Lawrence, Nelson Stevens, Napoleon Jones-Henderson, Howard Mallory, Frank Smith, James Phillips, and Murry Depillars.
This collection of paintings, silk screen prints on paper, sculpture, textile, and clothing designs burst with color, text, and figurative imagery. Similar to some Harlem Renaissance artists, this collective looked to Africa for inspiration. However, a key difference, according to founding member Wadsworth Jarrell, was "Afri-COBRA…worked collectively as a group, using our individual voices to create a body of work culminating in a school of thought—a non-Western approach to creating art." These artist/educators who received their professional training at some of the nation's prestigious institutions committed themselves to group meetings and critiques producing work that was African inspired, message oriented, socially responsible, and technically excellent.
For example, Jarrell's acrylic painting on canvas from the Azzi/Lusenhop collection entitled "Revolutionary" was a portrait of Angela Davis. Created in 1971, his use of the activist's words to suggest chiaroscuro pushed the boundaries of portraiture. Her Afro, mirroring a halo, thundered AfriCOBRA's philosophical approach to color—the bold, cherry red, blue-purple, and lime Kool-Aid colors worn by Black folk. Moreover, Jarrell's appropriation of a cartridge belt from a clothing design by Jae Jarrell, his wife and also a founding member, challenged the definition of revolutionary art.
The colors in Nelson Stevens's 1971 screen print entitled "Uhuru" challenged my preconceptions of portraiture. Stevens, who joined AfriCOBRA in 1969, is credited with contributing the principle of "shine" to the collective's school of thought. "Shine" refers to the Afros and newly-shined shoes worn by Black folk. "Uhuru" shined with kinetic shape and color, forming the heroic, visionary gaze of a proud, Afro-adorned male, his eyes set toward the future of Africans throughout the Diaspora. Black Arts Movement theorist Larry Neal's reference to these artists as "visual griots" and "image makers" is exemplified in "Uhuru," which shouts with 21st century hope and solutions.
Continuing the tour brought me to Carolyn Lawrence's "Uphold Your Men," a 1971 screen print, and Gerald Williams's "Wake Up." Both works echo the AfriCOBRA approach of using text within the composition to address the challenges Black people faced during a time of assassinations and a proliferation of racial, stereotypical imagery. Additionally, Jeff Donaldson's 1971 "Victory in the Valley of Eshu" and Jae Jarrell's 1968 velvet dress with velvet collage entitled "Black Family" portrayed similar themes.
Barbara Jones-Hogu's 1969-1971 "Unite" embodies the aspirations of creative disturbance from that era. The work depicts figures standing together, wearing Afros with fists raised. Hogu's use of the text "Unite" within the composition is a message from the sky. Her use of precious metal colors, according to Jones-Hogu, "speaks of the value and worth of African Americans." She even portrays a woman wearing an Egyptian Ankh earring representing life. Ultimately, resistance and unity become synonymous, challenging all negative stereotypes. The historical significance of "Unite" is its reference to Tommie Smith, a gold medal winner, and John Carlos, a bronze medal winner, who, during the 1968 Olympic ceremony, raised their fists in support of the Black Power movement.
After leaving this exhibition, my mind continued to play its unforgettable imagery and messages. Although the membership of AfriCOBRA has changed over time, this 30-year-old group continues to create work relevant for the 21st century.
Z Magazine Archive
HUMAN RIGHTS - The U.S. Human Rights Network will celebrate its 10th anniversary with the Advancing Human Rights 2013 Conference, December 6-8, in Atlanta, GA.
Contact: 250 Georgia Avenue SE, Suite 330, Atlanta, GA 30312; email@example.com; http:// www.ushrnetwork.org/.
AFRICAN/SOCIALIST - The Sixth Congress of the African People’s Socialist Party USA will be held December 7-11, in St. Petersburg, FL.
Contact: 1245 18th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33705; 727- 821-6620; info@aps puhuru.org; http://asiuhuru.org/.
SCHOOLS - The Dignity in Schools Campaign (DSC) will host a workshop on the DSC “Model Code on Education and Dignity: Presenting A Human Rights Framework for Schools” at the Mid-Hudson Region NY State Leadership Summit on School Justice Partnerships, December 11 in White Plains, NY.
Contact: http://www.dignityin schools.org/.
ANARCHIST/BOOKFAIR - The Humboldt Anarchist Book Fair will be held December 14, in Eureka, CA.
Contact: humboldtgrassroots @riseup.net; http://humbold tanarchist bookfair.wordpress. com/.
CLIMATE - The World Symposium on Sustainable Development at Universities is hosting a follow-up event to the 2012 Rio de Janeiro symposium. The gathering will be held in Qatar on January 28-30, 2014.
Contact: http://environment.tufts. edu/.
LABOR - The United Association for Labor Education (UALE) will host Organizing for Power: A New Labor Movement for the New Working Class in Los Angeles, March 26-29. Proposals are due December 15.
Contact: LAWCHA, 226 Carr Building (East Campus), Box 90719, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708-0719;lawcha @duke. edu; http://lawcha.org/.
MEDIA FELLOWSHIP - The Media Mobilizing Project is seeking applicants for the first annual Movement Media Fellowship Program. The Fellow will work with MMP to produce the spring season of Media Mobilizing Project TV. MMPTV is a news and talk show that tells the stories of local communities organizing to win human rights and build a movement to end poverty.
Contact: 4233 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19104; 215-821- 9632; milena@media mobilizing.org; http://www.media mobilizing.org/.
RACE - The 7th Facing Race: A National Conference will be held in Dallas, TX November 13-15, 2014. Organizers, educators, artists, funders and everyone interested in racial equity is invited to exchange best practices and learn about innovative models and successful organizing initiatives. Proposals must be submitted by January 24, 2014.
Contact: Race Forward, 32 Broadway, Suite 1801, New York, NY 10004; 212-513-7925; media @raceforward.org; http://race forward.org/.
VETERANS - They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return from America’s Wars - The Untold Story, by Ann Jones, is about the journey of veterans from the moment of being wounded in rural Afghanistan to their return home.
Contact: Haymarket Books, PO Box 180165, Chicago, IL 60618; 773-583-7884; http://www.haymarketbooks.org/.
LIBYA - Destroying Libya and World Order: The Three-Decade U.S. Campaign to Terminate the Qaddafi Revolution, by Francis A. Boyle, is a history and critique of American foreign policy from Reagan to Obama.
Contact: Clarity Press, Inc., Ste. 469, 3277 Roswell Rd. NE, Atlanta, GE 30305; 404-647-6501; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www. claritypress.com/.
CHILDREN - Fannie and Freddie by Becky Z. Dernbach is about two bumbling villains who gamble away the savings of the people of Homeville.
Contact: fannieandfreddiebook @gmail.com; http://fannieand freddie.org/.
PROTEST/COMIC - Fight the Power!: A Visual History of Protest Among English Speaking Peoples, by Sean Michael Wilson and Benjamin Dickson is a graphic narrative that explains how people have fought against oppression.
Contact: Seven Stories Press, 140 Watts Street, New York, NY 10013; 212-226-8760; info@ sevenstories.com; http://www. sevenstories.com.
CHILDREN - Brave Girl by Michelle Markel and illustrated by Melissa Sweet is the true story of Clara Lemlich, a young Ukrainian immigrant who led the largest strike of women workers in U.S. history.
Contact: http://www.harpercollins childrens.com/Kids/.
FESTIVAL - The 2014 Queer Women of Color Film Festival will be held June 13-15 in San Francisco. The festival is currently accepting submissions until December 31.
Contact: QWOCMAP, 59 Cook Street, San Francisco, CA 94118-3310; 415-752-0868; email@example.com; http://www.qwocmap.org/.
IRAQ/REFUGEES - Ten years after the U.S.-led war in Iraq, thousands of displaced Iraqi refugees are still facing a crisis in the United States. The Lost Dream follows Nazar and Salam who had to flee Iraq in order to avoid threats by Al- Qaeda-affiliated groups and Iraqi insurgents that consider them “traitors” for supporting U.S. forces in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Contact: Typecast Films, 888- 591-3456; info@type castfilms. com; http://type castfilms.com/.
HUMAN RIGHTS - Lyrical Revolt! III will be held December 4 in Syracuse, NY. The event will feature hip-hop musician Anhel whose album Young, Gifted, and Brown was just released. The event is sponsored by ANSWER Syracuse, Liberation News, and SyracuseHip Hop.com. Performers and artists are encouraged to send submissions.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.answercoalition.org/syracuse/.
FOLK - Musician Painless Parker has released his album Music for miscreants, malcontents and misanthropes featuring “Fuck Yeah, the Working Class.”
Contact: email@example.com; http://painlessparkermusic.com/.
COMEDY - Political comedian Lee Camp’s new album Pepper Spray the Tears Away has been released.