The frosty temps and icy winds that blew in the first weekend of Black History Month 2023 with did not deter communities near and far from coming up on February 3rd, 2023.
Also the beautifully renovated Art Gallery on the second floor of the iconic Adam Clayton Powell Jr. State Building located in the heart of Harlem on 125th Street, just steps from the legendary Apollo Theater, for the visual Art Exhibition ”Juxtapositions of Imaginations (J.O.I.);” which embraced a vegan culinary art conversation accompanied by Daoude’s sweet potatoe pie samplings from HealthyCityFood vegan, his live music drum accompaniment and harmonica, readings from the book Colored Flames by Florence Mills, a cello performance by impresario Mel Greenidge of Ensemble Sepia Network and live theatre, a premiere of the play “Widows and Warriors,” a projected conversation between Coretta Scott King and Betty Shabazz.
The premiere was attended by Malaak Shabazz, daughter of Malcolm X, herself an international human rights activist who added her audible vocal comments at certain moments during the play.
She graciously availed herself to questions from the full house of attendees and complemented, as did many, Playwright Donna Coles and cast for a unique and fine piece of history delivered through theatre.
These complementary events which occurred over six non-consecutive days of BHM were well attended and well received and drew much praise and compliments as did the J.O.I. Art Exhibition was curated and installed by Greg Mills, Curator and the Art Exhibition and Events Organizer.
The Art display consisted of colorful conjoined fantastical, whimsical, and wonderfully imaginative mixed media works, three-dimensional pieces, photography, and thought-provoking realism all created in, by, and for communities by established, emerging and self-taught artists.
Woman’s HERstory Month of Event at celebrated at the Art Gallery was even more spectacular in that on March 25th, an original theatrical dramatization of James Mercer Langston Hughes’ “The Class” was presented by the Theatre Ministry of Mount Pleasant Christian Academy International complemented by a performance medley: recitals of Hughes’ poems, “Let America Be America Again” and “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” and praise dancing of which each piece was delivered by children ages nine through fourteen, as well as a graduate of this 40-year NYS Board of Education, charted school located in Central Harlem which offers Pre-K to high school level academics including music, art and wood making.
“Widows and Warrior” encore performance back by popular demand was again graced this time with the unexpected attendance of Nana Camille Yarbrough, musician, actress, dancer, poet, activist, television producer, and author who complimented Playwright Donna Coles, and conveyed to the guest audience the significance of telling our history in our voice with the vehicle of theatre. The play was followed by a live impresario virtuoso’s tribute to jazz pioneer Lady Day Billie Holiday. Senator Cordell Cleare Sponsor of the Art Exhibition together with expressed NYS Office of General Service was impressed with the celebratory events and spoke on the significance of BHM and WHS. She then cordially availed herself to many pictures taking.
Black History Month is every day and Woman’s HERStory Month is never ending— both juxtaposed in every moment.
Click here to find more of Seitu Oronde’s photo essays at Seitu’s World.
Photo credit: 1) 2nd from rt, Playwright Donna Coles with a cast of actors protesting the wives of Malcolm X. 2) 3 Michael Green portraying Martin Luther King and his play 39 steps. 4) portrait of Yolanda king the first in an elder daughter of Martin Luther King.