Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Two Men, One Dream, One Spirit

Well, here I go again on the subject of politics, media and race. It's just an exciting time to be an American. As I mentioned in my earlier post this is history in the making. I think of my Grandparents,(Maternal and Paternal) and parents and how they endured much hurt and pain for me to be able to witness a Black Man elected President of the United States. This is an awesome time.

As I started this project, my mind went back to the sixties. How confusing it was for a 10 year old to understand the assassination of a man. As a matter of fact it took me a little while to understand what an assassination was.
Growing up African American in Rural Virginia during the 50's & 60's was not the easist. But this is where we lived. There were many places we could not go, and things we could not do. And if we did have to be in the pressence of Anglos, we were always cautious.

Today I realize the 60's was the beginning of change for the African Americans and Anglo Americans. The change, that all persons are created equal, and we all have the right to dream and realize our dreams.

I was interested in knowing just how much Obama's speech
"A More Perfect Union" paralleled King's "I Have a Dream speech". So I did a little experiment. I listened to both at the same time. Since the Obama speech was longer, I started it first. Letting it play for about 60 seconds, then I started the King speech.

At first, it was a little difficult to follow each person, after a few moments I got the hang of it and could distinguish each voice as well as the messages. The more I listened to both men, the more I realized a parallel in the messages. There were points, that each Man spoke on, that mirrored the other. The words went exact, but the message was the same. The message that all persons were created equal, and we are One Nation of People. We are all Americans!

Martin Luther King - "I Have A Dream"

Obama - "A More Perfect Union"

Friday, October 24, 2008

Spike Lee

Shelton Jackson "Spike" Lee (born March 20, 1957) is an Emmy Award-winning and Academy Award-nominated American film director, producer, writer, and actor, noted for his films dealing with controversial social and political issues. He also teaches film at New York University and Columbia University. His production company, 40 Acres & A Mule Filmworks, has produced over 35 films since 1983.

Lee was born in Atlanta, Georgia, the son of Jacqueline Shelton, a teacher of arts and black literature, and William James Edward Lee III, a jazz musician, and composer.[1] Lee moved with his family to Brooklyn, New York when he was a small child. The Fort Greene neighborhood is home of Lee's production company, 40 Acres & A Mule Filmworks, and other Lee-owned or related businesses. As a child, his mother nicknamed him "Spike." In Brooklyn, he attended John Dewey High School. Lee enrolled in Morehouse College where he made his first student film, Last Hustle in Brooklyn. He took film courses at Clark Atlanta University and graduated with a B.A. in Mass Communication from Morehouse College. He then enrolled in New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. He graduated in 1978 with a Master of Fine Arts in Film & Television.

Lee has always been a very controversial figure in the film world. His political views, and the fact he is an independent filmmaker tends to allow him to continue to produce films that are not generally thought of as mainstream. Many of his recent films focus on topics and issues that mainstream/commercial films fail to address.

One of his most controversial films, "Bamboozled"
created a uproar in the film world. "Bamboozled" broke down the racial stereotypes that have been present in cinema in this country since the Luminier Brothers.

This film tends to make people uncomfortable, because Lee doesn't sugarcoat the racial stereotype that existed in early film in this country. As well as he explores the affects of African American racial stereotypes that still exist in American film. This is a
satirical film, that created a lot of controversy upon its' debut.

Spike Lee's Bamboozled Trailer

This brings up the concept of Black Film, and Black Filmmakers. Spike Lee is a filmmaker who focuses on the Black Experience in American culture.

Lee is a prolific writer, and producer. Often times he is pegged as a Black Filmmaker. When in reality he is a Filmmaker who documents the Black experience.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Visual, The Election, Race & Politics

As I was searching the web today, trying to find an interesting African American artist, to research, I kept running into political stuff. Stuff about the up coming election. Then I ran across the video "Misconceptions of Obama Fuel Republican Campaign". And boy did a flood of emotions, ideas, and thoughts come to mind.

It is amazing how a simple box with moving images projecting from it can incite a flood of fears and misconceptions. Will we ever come together as one country? Will America ever be just one America, not Black, White, Native, Hispanic, Asia, Muslim, German, Gay, Straight.... Americans. JUST ONE AMERICA!!!!!

Before the Kennedy/Nixon Presidential Debate, there was no way to tell the appearance of the candidates, except by the photos in newspapers. Often times in economic depressed areas of the country, people didn't even have access to newspapers. This left them to visualize on their own what the candidates appearances were. It was a given they were both Anglo-American.

I ask what this Presidential election would look like if there were no media available to send images around the world. Would there be as much "hoopla"? Or would it be the same? Would we be more interested in the message or the man.

As a visual culture, Americans tends to look at color and race rather than issues. Why does it matter if the person's skin color is not of the minority (Not a typo) ). We have a tendency to assume the color of skin is the defining factor for integrity, intelligence, and birthright. Not So!!

The video "Misconceptions of Obama Fuels Republican Campaign" is a stellar example of the need for Americans to take a good look at where we are going as the most powerful nation in the world. When we can't get past the differences in skin color.

This is a scary concept since the majority of the people who live in this country are people of color (non-Anglo). There is no pure race in this country any more. We are all immigrants. Only the Indigenous People (Native Americans) and their ancestors have the right to claim this as home.

I guess you are wondering how this relates to Film and Photo. Well for years, the media in this country has depicted
non-Anglos in a negative light. Creating false visuals of cultures through stereotypes and scare tactics. So I ask, who's scared now?

For the first time in America's history, we sit on the verge of having a President of our country who is not of the traditional Anglo fashion. (remember the one drop policy). This is an exciting time for many in this country, but scary for others. Why scary? Well as you will seen in this video, there is fear, that the past sins of many of this country's Anglo population will come back to haunt them. And it is also scary that when people get scared they often times become irrational. This is what I see in this video. A group of scared, irrational people.

"Misconceptions of Obama Fuel Republican Campaign"

Where We're Going

Friday, October 17, 2008

Oscar Micheaux - Film

(January 2, 1884 – March 25, 1951) was a pioneering African American author and is widely recognized as being the first African-American filmmaker (although he was predated by the short lived Lincoln Motion Picture Company[1]). He is considered the most prominent producer of race films.

Given the times, his accomplishments in publishing and film are extraordinary, including being the first African-American to produce a film to be shown in "white" movie theaters. In his motion pictures, he moved away from the "Negro" stereotypes being portrayed in film at the time. Additionally, in his film Within Our Gates, Micheaux attacked the racism depicted in D.W. Griffith's film, The Birth of a Nation.

The Producers Guild of America called him "The most prolific black - if not most prolific independent - filmmaker in American cinema." Over his illustrious career, Oscar Micheaux wrote, produced and directed forty-four feature-length films between 1919 and 1948 and wrote seven novels, one of which was a national bestseller.

Micheaux died in Charlotte, North Carolina while on a business trip. His body was returned to Great Bend, Kansas, where he was interred in the Great Bend cemetery with other members of his family.


Oscar Micheaux Home Page

Complete Bio

Segregation - Midnight Ramble

A Midnight Ramble was a segregation-era midnight showing of films for an African American audience, often in a cinema where, under Jim Crow laws they would never have been admitted at other times. The films shown were often from among the over 500 films were made between 1910 and 1950 in the United States with Black producers, writers, actors and directors.


Directed by Oscar Micheaux
Produced by Hubert Julian Oscar Micheaux
Written by Oscar Micheaux
Starring Edna Mae Harris Robert Earl Jones

Murder in Harlem (1935)
A black night watchman at a chemical
factory finds the body of a murdered
white woman. After he reports it, he finds
himself accused of the murder.

Oscar Micheaux's Actual Burial Card

This is the actual funeral card distributed at Oscar's funeral. This is the text portion (the right side) of the inside of the memorial card. The funeral card erroneously reports the date of death as March 27, 1951. In fact, Micheaux died on March 25, 1951.

Inside text
Front and back covers
This shows both the front and back of the memorial card.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Eugene James Martin

"If you seek just a little truth, as most,you should not ignore abstract forms, the basis from which all short-lived experiences we call reality springs."
© e.j. martin

1938-Born in Washington D.C.
1960-1963 Attended Corcoran School of Art in Washington D.C.
2005-Died in Lafayette, Louisiana.



Works of Art

Untitled 1966
Untitled 1966

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

William Pope.l

William Pope.L [born 1955] is a multidisciplinary artist known for his ironic conceptual and performance art dealing with consumerism, social class and racism (but not in a simplistic, black and white way) and also, and more importantly, his absolute and all consuming hatred of mayonnaise. Pope.L regularly draws upon his African-American heritage to tackle variations upon what he calls "social conundrums.-