Tag Archives: Twin Cities Public Television

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.


Wrap Up American Archives Month with an Armchair Tour of the American Folklife Center

In a way I regret to see American Archives Month (October) come to an end.  There are so many stories to share… Of course there are always intriguing archival resources to be plumbed – it’s just that this month offers such a good reminder to take the time!

The American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress  (http://www.loc.gov/folklife/) reigns as the epicenter of this nation’s archives.   Created by Congress in 1976 the Center  continues to collect living traditional culture at the same time it preserves the existing collections in the unique preservation facilities of the Library of Congress.

The American Folklife Center Archive was established in the Library of Congress Music Division in 1928.  Today it stands as one of the largest archives of ethnographic materials from the US and around the globe.  The collection includes millions of items recorded from the 19th Century to the present.  The collections include documentation of traditional arts, cultural expressions and oral histories.

The archives are so robust and so diverse that it’s best to plunge in at some modest level and see where the archival river flows.  There are numerous finding aids to the collection, including a guide to Minnesota collections in the Archive of Folk Culture compiled by Madeline Esposito and Ross S. Gerston.  (http://www.loc.gov/folklife/guides/Minnesota.html)  The guide will lead you to disc recordings of North American Indian songs originally recorded on cylinder by Frances Densmore, to the 1954 recording on tape of a public ceremony honoring Albert Woolson, the 107-year-old last surviving Union Army veteran, and on to an amazing collection of recordings of ethnic music, interviews, even a little Bob Dylan from back in the day.

Don’t think you have to go to Washington, DC to experience the treasures of the Folklife Center  Archives.  The American Folklife Center is tackling the challenge to provide online access to select portions of the collections.  Their approach is thorough and thoughtful.  The Center creates its own online presentations on various topics and the American Memory project (http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/index.html) provides additional online access to the selected collections.  The online content may include a wide variety of media including audio samples of music and stories, digital images of rare letters and photographs and video clips.

The Veterans History Project (http://www:loc.gov/vets.about.html ) offers a case in point.  The Project collects first-hand accounts of U.S. veterans for the past century, from World War I through the  Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts.   The collection also includes recorded conversations with civilians who were actively involved in war support  efforts, whether as war industry workers, medical volunteers, flight instructors or others.  The founding member of the Veterans History Project is AARP.

Another readily accessible online  treasure that caught my eye and ear is the Lomax Family Collections  (http://www.loc.gov/folklife/lomax/) .  Though one thinks of the Lomax family and folk music, many of the recordings in the Lomax Family Collections are inclusive.  One recording of immense historic value is “After the Day of Infamy, (http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/afcphhtml/afcphhome.html) , twelve hours of man-on-the-street interviews following the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 – all available online.

Closer to home is another perfect example – with a Minnesota spin.  It’s a celebration of native languages that features a program sponsored by Twin Cities Public Television (TPT), “First speakers: Restoring the Ojibwe language.”  http://www.culturalsurvival.org/news/united-states/endangered-languages-programs-update-celebrating-native-american-languages-library.  For a listing of the online collections and presentations of the American Folklife Center go to http://www.loc.gov/folklife/onlinecollections.html.

And, just for fun, you might want to wrap up American Archives Month by taking time to enjoy the webcast  “How to find stuff at the largest library in the world” produced by the Library of Congress.  (RealPlayer required.)  http://www.loc.gov/today/cyberlc/feature_wdesc.php?rec=5980







Film and Guide Offer Faith Perspective on GLBT Issues

Love Free or Die (http://www.lovefreeordiemovie.com/) is the widely acclaimed film that depicts the story of Gene Robinson, the openly gay Episcopal Bishop whose experience has ignited both church controversy and a call for faith communities to examine their own dogmas and attitudes.  Twin Cities area public libraries, in partnership with tpt (Twin Cities Public Television), will host a free screening of the film on Monday, June 3, 7-8:30 p.m. at the Merriam Park Library, 1831 Marshall Avenue, St. Paul.

The film is one in a series of films produced by PBS as part of the Independent Lens initiative, a national engagement program known as Community Cinema that pairs independent films with public discussions moderated by hosts from public television systems.

David Gillette of tpt will moderate a panel discussion featuring panelists Reverend Anita C. Hill, Regional Director of Reconciling Works (formerly Lutherans Concerned North America) and Reverend Bradley Schmeling of Gloria Dei Lutheran Church.

The documentary is “about church and state, love and marriage, faith and identity – and openly gay Bishop Eugene Robinson’s struggle to dispel the notion that God’s love has limits.”

In a unique and superb support guide the filmmaker, Macky Alston, offers keen insights into life as the gay child/grandchild  of clergymen who struggled to open their minds to GLBT lifestyle.  The guide itself offers a robust introduction to the film, to Robinson and to difficult topics including Religious Teachings and Homosexuality, Changing Attitudes Over Time, Genetic Explanations of Sexual Orientation, Supreme Court Cases, What Science Tells Us, and much more.

The guide also includes suggestions for action that are particularly timely for the faith community.   Each of the topics covered is replete with links to additional resources for individuals and groups, including young people, who seek information and ideas within a faith construct.  The resource guide stands alone as a powerful tool.  It’s readily accessible on the Love Free or Die website.

Though I have not seen the film, I have immersed myself in the supplementary resource guide.  Based on that introduction I am totally impressed by the thought and study that imbue this project.  The background guide is a well-written, fair-minded treasure  trove of issues and links for further study and discussion.  It is a  readily accessible tool for any individual or group struggling to learn, discuss or simply come to grips with the complex dimensions of one of today’s most challenging social issues .  Bishop Robinson’s personal struggle reflects and informs the answers sought by virtually every faith community.


An Armchair Guide to the James K. Hosmer Special Collections

Habitue that I am of the James K. Hosmer Special Collections at Minneapolis Central Library, I somehow missed last September’s telecast of Treasures Collected, Treasures Shared on tpt.  The documentary is a joint production of tpt and Hennepin County Library with funds from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

It’s a joy to experience the collection, even vicariously.

As an introduction to the treasures of Special Collections five researchers describe their experiences.  Penny Peterson is researcher and historian;  Joyce Wisdom is ED of the Lake Street Council; librarian Linda James is producer of tpt’s Lost Twin Cities Series; Chris and Rushika Hage wrote Nicollet Island: History and Architecture.

Also interviewed for the documentary is musician and storyteller Dan Chouinard who says “I’ve made use of Special Collections for three writing projects now, with at least another two on deck…I know I’ve barely scratched the surface and I’m looking forward to making use of the tremendous staff expertise and the bast content, especially the World War II collections I’ll be using in a show for MPR in January. ”

All of these individuals have produced books, radio and TV documentaries, even historic walking tours, based on their research in the Hosmer Collection.

DVD copies of Treasures Collected, Treasures Shared are available through the Hennepin County Library system.  Short videos produced by tpt about the Library’s Special Collections, including the Kittleson World War II Collection and house history resources will also be posted on HCL’s YouTube and Vimeo channels.

Manager of Special Collections, Ted Hathaway, can be reached at 612 543 8200 or on the web.

Cornerstones: A History of North Minneapolis Documentary Showing

The day is coming when my neighbors and I will be able to cross the Lowry Bridge to explore friends and family in  North Minneapolis – a good time to refresh memories and learn more about  the legendary history of the Northside community.

Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Daniel Pierce Bergin worked with the University of Minnesota Urban Research and Outreach-Engagement Center (UROC) and Twin Cities Public Television (TPT), to produce an hour-long documentary on just that topic.   The documentary Cornerstones: A History of North Minneapolis” offers the viewer powerful stories of Northside life blended with themes of race relations, immigration and cultural changes through “place-based memories.”

Bergin will offer a public viewing and discussion of his documentary on Saturday, February 4, 2-3:30 p.m. at Sumner Library, 611 Van White Boulevard, at the intersection of Van White Boulevard and Olson Highway.  Bergin is a senior producer with a varied background including the documentary North Star: Minnesota’s Black Pioneers.  Other Bergin productions include Standing the Test of Time, the biography of architect Cass Gilbert, and a literary history documentary entitled Literature & Life: The Givens Collection.

Sumner Library opened its doors in 1915 is a vital player in the history of the Northside.   for nearly a century library has served the public through decades of change   Funded through the largesse of Andrew Carnegie, the Tudor Revival style building designed by architect Cecil Bayless Chapman was a showpiece as well as a citadel of learning in the working class neighborhood.

In the early days, the library served as unique place where the Jewish Community of the Northside congregated and came together to learn. The Sumner Library ensured the preservation of the Yiddish and Hebrew languages through their collection of books written in these dialects. This further enhanced the sense of community and oneness felt in the North Side neighborhood.  In time, the collection and the programs of Sumner have evolved with the changing demographics of the Northside.  The same spirit of service to newcomers is the distinguishing feature of Sumner today.Because Bergin will be on hand February 4th to discuss and respond to viewers’ questions, prospective attendees may wish to preview the documentary in advance.  It’s been telecast and will be shown again on Sunday, February 26, 1:00 PM, and Wednesday, February 29, at 5:00 AM and 11:00 PM.  The documentary is also streamed on the web on several sites, including the TPT Cornerstones site.