Ira Aldridge was born July 24, 1807, in New York City. Aldridge’s first exposure to live theatre was from the balcony of the Park Theatre, where the city’s performance arts was thriving. Then, with a booming interest, having acted with the African Grove Theatre, and still a teenager, Aldridge moved to London and toured many provinces in Europe. In 1826, Aldridge played Othello at London’s Royalty Theatre and made his London debut. Aldridge, despite having faced racism and prejudice from fellow actors and critics alike, became the first prominent black american actor to establish mainstream success in Shakespearean roles and to grace the stage of a major London theatre.
Image: NYPL Digital Gallery
Nelson Mandela was born on this day, July 18, 1918. As we remember his life and legacy, we also celebrate Nelson Mandela International Day. On November 2009, the United Nations General Assembly designated July 18 as a day of commemoration of the former South African President’s contribution to the culture of peace and freedom.
To learn more about Mandela Day, click here.
2014 Harlem Book Fair -
Watch Book TV’s live coverage of the 16th annual Harlem Book Fair from the New York Public Library. Topics include African-American literature, a conversation with Tracey Syphax, and a panel on the…
Saturday, July 12, 2014. 11am-6pm
Stop by the 16th Annual Harlem Book Fair and the 1st Annual HBF Urban Arts & Lit Book Festival.
Panel discussions will be held in the Schomburg’s Langston Hughes Auditorium and broadcasted live on C-SPAN2.
Friday, August 1 at 6:00 p.m.
This month’s First Fridays at the Schomburg is themed “For the Love of House Music,” in honor of Frankie Knuckles. Known as the “Godfather,” Knuckles helped build House, a style of Chicago dance music that revolutionized club culture in the ‘70s and ‘80s and still resonates around the world today. Check out our wonderful displays, sign-up for a membership, and visit our Schomburg Gift Shop while networking and dancing the night away.
Our DJs for the night will be DJ Masai and DJ Frankie Paradise.
For More Information and to Register, Click Here
As you celebrate Independence Day, check out this photo from our Photographs and Prints Division of a 4th of July celebration in St. Helena Island, South Carolina (year unknown).
Image ID: 1260135
50 years ago on July 2, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act into law, outlawing discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, and religion. This legendary bill was enacted 10 years after the Supreme Court Ruled, in the historic Brown v. Board of Education case, that the racial segregation of children in public schools violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Explore the Civil Rights Act and other moments surrounding the legendary Brown v. Board case with our pop-up exhibit “On the Road to Integration: Celebrating the 60th Anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education” (on display until July 26, 2014).
To learn more about this exhibit and others, click here.
Purple Rain! Talk at the Schomburg -
Did you miss Purple Rain! yesterday? Watch now via Livestream.
Monday, June 30, 2014. 6:30-8:00 PM
Harlem LGBT Community: A Conversation
As a closing for Gay Pride Month, we invite you to the Schomburg Center for a community conversation. This program is presented by In The Life Archive.
For more information and to register, click here
Wednesday, June 25, 2014. 6:30-8:00 pm.
Celebrate the 30th anniversary of Prince’s “Purple Rain” LP with a conversation featuring Greg Tate, Karen Good Marable and Zaheer Ali and moderated by Ebony.com’s Miles Marshall Lewis. Stay for the garden party with Burnt Sugar Arkestra “sugarizing” the LP immediately following the panel discussion.
For more information and to register, click here.
"As an actress, Ms. Dee was a bridge between the Harlem Renaissance and contemporary black theater. Inspired by Paul Robeson whom she met at the Schomburg’s American Negro Theater, she helped make artistry as a form of activism real and meaningful for actors as influential as Harry Belafonte and Audra McDonald." —Dr. Khalil Gibran Muhammad, The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
Image: Ruby Dee and Sydney Poitier in Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun, 1959. NYPL Digital Gallery, Image ID 5013050.
We take pause to remember the legacy of actress, activist, and dear friend of the Schomburg, Ruby Dee, who passed away on June 11, 2014.
Photo Credit: Photographs and Prints Division, Schomburg Center
The Schomburg Center’s In the Life Archive’s Ordinary People series presents Djola Branner.
Can you talk about how you came to the stage, first as a dancer, then as an actor and playwright?
My first experience as a performer was actually doing open mike poetry readings, before they were called SLAMS, back in the day back in San Francisco. My hands would shake and my knees would knock, but I would steady myself as best I could and lunge as the microphone to utter a few words despite myself. It was terrifying and liberating all at the same time. Next came… the dance, which opened me to a whole new level of energy and community. I actually studied, taught and performed Haitian dance for 25 years (so yes, I AM older than I look) and that experience informs my approach to creating and staging original drama to this day.
As a lot of folks know, my theatrical trial by fire came with the formation of Pomo Afro Homos. It provided the perfect venue for my love of poetry, dance and personal narrative. And in the wake of my life as a Pomo, I realized I had become a theatre artist.
How did sash & trim come together?
sash & trim started as a writing exercise. My favorite graduate playwriting teacher, Laura Maria Censabella, said: “Imagine your parent’s first date, and write about it”. Once I had completed the exercise, I realized the characters had a LOT more to say. I had written and performed a piece about my mother (in 1994), a one-person show entitled Sweet Sadie,and initially my intention for writing sash & trim was to script a companion piece about my father. He was a frustrated singer/songwriter who never made his living as an artist, and I knew that his original music, or what I could remember of it, would play significantly in constructing his story.
What can audiences expect to see next week when you visit the Schomburg Center next Tuesday with your book, sash & trim?
Audiences can expect to see a family grappling with the legacy of one complicated African-American man. “Hank” is complicated. One the one hand he’s a romantic singer/songwriter, and on the other he’s a philandering husband and father. The story is told through memory, music and a good dose of laughter.
I’m particularly excited because four of the five actors – Khi Armand, David Donnella, and I are reprising our roles from the original workshop production, and Laurie Carlos (who directed the play) is reading the role of “Sadie”. Judyie Al-Bilali is reading the role of “Anne”, which she read at the book release party in Amherst, MA last September. I’m ecstatic to be amongst this cast. So audiences are also likely to see me grinning from ear to ear.
On Tuesday, June 17, at 6:30, playwright, actor, and co-founder of the Pomo Afro Homos (Postmodern African-American Homosexuals), Djola Branner will be performing excerpts from his first collection of dramatic work, sash & trim and other plays published by RedBone Press earlier this year. The reading will be followed by a small reception. Books will be available for purchase.
Djola Branner combines movement, sound and light to enliven voices historically absent from the stage. Co-founder of the seminal group Pomo Afro Homos, he toured nationally and internationally with their shows Fierce Love: Stories from Black Gay Life and Dark Fruit. His interdisciplinary work has been supported by Creative Capital, the Jerome, McKnight, and Bush Foundations, and published in such anthologies as In the Life, The Road Before Us, Colored Contradictions, Staging Gay Lives, and Voices Rising. He has createdsuch performances as Sweet Sadie, Mighty Real: A Tribute to Sylvester and sash & trim, and performed in regional theaters across the country. Djola is currently Dean of the School for Interdisciplinary Arts, and Associate Professor of Theater at Hampshire College.
Please RSVP for the event here