NEWARK — A Saturday afternoon of poetry reading followed with a Wednesday evening presentation by a well-known educator are part of the Newark Public Library’s 2011 salute to Black History continuing through the month of March.
Sonia Sanchez, author of “Homegirls and Hand Grenades”,” Morning Haiku,” and other acclaimed works, will present an afternoon of poetry, Saturday, March 12, from noon to 2 p.m. at the Main Library, 5 Washington Street. Newark South Ward Councilman Ras Baraka will interview Sanchez prior to her presentation.
The following Wednesday, March 16, Dr. Antoinette Ellis-Williams of New Jersey City University (NJCU) will be speak at 6 p.m. also at the Main Library. This program was originally scheduled for last month, but was cancelled due to inclement weather.
An Associate Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies, Dr. Ellis-Williams will speak about Dr. Lee Hagan for whom the NJCU’s Africana Studies Center is named. She is also director of the center.
Often associated with the Black Arts Movement, Sanchez is a political activist and prolific author. Her poems depict the struggles between black people and white people, between men and women, and between cultures. She is innovative in her use of language and structure, sometimes using Black speech in her poetry.
Sanchez began teaching in the San Francisco area in 1965 and was a pioneer in developing black studies courses at what is now San Francisco State University, where she was an instructor from 1968 to 1969. She was the first Presidential Fellow at Temple University where she began teaching in 1977 and held the Laura Carnell Chair in English until her retirement in 1999. During the sixties, after her graduation from Hunter College and post graduate work at New York University, Sanchez formed a writers’ workshop in Greenwich Village, attended by such poets as Amiri Baraka (LeRoi Jones), Haki R. Madhubuti (Don L. Lee), and Larry Neal. Along with Madhubuti, Nikki Giovanni, and Etheridge Knight, she formed the “Broadside Quartet” of young poets, introduced and promoted by Dudley Randall.
Dr. Ellis-Williams is the founder and director of the statewide Female Leadership Development Institute and Research Center. She holds a bachelor of arts degree in sociology from Seton Hall University, a master’s of public administration from the University of Pittsburgh, Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, and a Ph.D. from Cornell University, School of Human Ecology.
The late Dr. Hagan, a committed scholar and activist devoted to the teaching and research of African and African-American History, served NJCU (Jersey City State College at that time) for 17 years as a professor of history, coordinator for the African/Afro-American Studies Program, founding member of theBlack Administrators, Alumni, Faculty, Student and Staff Organization (BAAFSSO), and advisor to several student organizations. He inspired many young people and adults to pursue a higher education that would include an Afrocentric awareness and a commitment to perform meaningful community service. Dr. Hagan passed away in 1986.
The Newark Public Library is commemorating its 2011 observance of Black History with two exhibits that celebrate the exuberance, grace and innovation of black dance, from its origins in African villages to its incorporation into mass culture and Broadway musicals. We Are a Dancing People: The History of Black Dance From Then Until Now and the accompanying photographic display, The Art of Dance, are on view at the Main Library through March 23.
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