Tag Archives: Alexs Pate

Twin Citians Remember Amiri Baraka (LeRoi Jones) at the Capri

Many who may know poet and playwright Amiri Baraka (nee Everett LeRoi Jones) may not know his close association with the Twin Cities.   Next weekend’s celebration ,  “Spirit Reach: A Twin Cities Tribute to Imamu Amiri Baraka” offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to remember or to learn.

The community curated event is set for Saturday, April 12, 2:00-4:00 p.m. at the Capri Theater, 2027 West Broadway in Minneapolis.

Spirit Reach represents the impact that the artist, who died at age 79 in January 2014,  has had on the Twin Cities area literary and performing arts communities.  The event will be hosted by author Alexs Pate and arts community leader Arleta Little.  Performers include a host of nationally and internationally recognized artists that call the Twin Cities home.

A prominent member of the Beat Generation, LeRoi Jones began his literary life on New York’s Lower East Side where he founded the avant garde poetry magazine Yugen.   Other members of the Beat Generation included Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac.  After the assassination of Malcolm X in 1965 Jones changed his name to Imamu Amiri Baraka.  At the same time, he moved to Harlem where he played a major role in the explosion of the Black Arts Movement, generally regarded as the cultural mirror of the Black Power Movement.

In 2008 TPT produced an hour long video entitled “Amiri Baraka: The Power of the Word” in which the poet reads from his work and discusses writing, politics and the African American  experience with author Alexs Pate – in front of a live audience of Twin Citians. http://www.mnvideovault.org/index.php?id=16438&select_index=0&popup=yes.

If you were fortunate enough to be in that audience you’ll want to revisit the experience – if you missed the 2008 performance, here’s your chance to learn more.

Local artists including Douglas Edward, Toki Wright, Sha Cage, Emmanuel Ortiz, Leah Nelson, E.G. Bailey, Donald, Fare and Kevin Washington, Mankwe Ndosi, Bao Phi, Tish Jones, J. Otis Powell, Lisa Brimmer, Bob Cottman, Andrea Jenkins, Davu Seru, Chaun Webster, Truthmaze and Louis Alemayehu are expected to join in the celebration!

The free and open celebration is sponsored by McKnight Foundation, Insight News, Givens Foundation for African American Literature, Pangea World Theatre, KFAI Radio, and the University of Minnesota.


Celebrating African American Literature During Black History Month

In Minnesota and throughout the nation the name  Archie  Givens – Senior or Junior — is synonymous with the rich legacy of African American literature.

Archie Givens, Sr. was a noted Minnesota business leader with a passion for collecting the very best of African American literature of his era.   The Archie Givens Senior Collection of African American Literature is now housed at the University of Minnesota Libraries.  The collection includes over 8,000 volumes representative of a broad range of African American literary genre dating back to 1773..  Among the holdings are the archives of the Penumbra Theater, manuscripts, fiction, nonfiction, even letters of African American authors.

There is a beautiful documentary based on the Givens collection which was described in an earlier post on this blog.

In celebration of Black History Month, Minneapolis downtown workers and visitors will have a chance to catch a glimpse of the wonders of the collection.  Books from the Givens collection will be on display at the Hennepin Gallery at the Hennepin County Government Center, 300 South Sixth Street through February 26.  Many of the books on exhibit are rare first editions, some of which have been out of print for decades.  Some of the books are actually signed by the author;  others include covers designed by well-known artists.

The Hennepin Gallery is free and open to the pubic Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m – 6:00 p.m.

Meanwhile, Archie Givens Jr. continues to support his father’s literary passion.  Time is short but it is not too late to attend a related African American literary event, this one sponsored in part by Archie Givens, Jr. as part of Black History Month.  Since 2004 The Givens Foundation for African American Literature and the Friends of the U of M Libraries have sponsored the NOMMO African American Authors Series.  (NOMMO is a Dogon word meaning “the magic power of the word”

This year the featured artist is poet and literary activist E. Ethelbert Miller.  He will read from his work and discuss the state of the art of African American literature with U of M professor Alexs Pate.  The event is Wednesday, February 6, 7:00 p.m. in Cowles Auditorium, Humphrey Center, 301 19th Avenue South on the U of M West Bank.

Tickets are $15, no charge for U of M students, members of the Givens Foundation and Friends of the U of M Libraries.  612 624 2345.