Literary Salon celebrates life of activist James Baldwin

By Tiana Hunter 

The Fifth Annual Black History Project 2017 will present a literary salon based on the works of James Baldwin on March 16 at East Los Angeles College.

The works of Baldwin will be presented through music, dance and much more The production, funded by the Associated Student Union, will include international performing artist Charles Reese.

Reese will shine a light on artist and activist James Baldwin in celebration of the 30th year anniversary of Baldwin’s death. “It’s the 30th year anniversary of his death and the film “I Am Not Your Negro” is now out.

I feel it is a good time to revisit his work and introduce a new generation to what he’s done,” said Reese. Reese will have what he calls a “literary salon.” The event will also include invited guest artist and choreographer Pat Taylor. Taylor is the artistic director of the JazzAntiqua Dance Ensemble.

Wanda-Lee Evans, the professional dancer and actor who has taught at ELAC for 23 years is the artist director and producer of the project. “Pat and Charles are going to take that same consciousness Baldwin had and put it in their way of speaking,” said Wanda-Lee Evans According to Evans, Taylor will deliver the information through movement and Reese will deliver it through his own performance.

“It’s important how they are delivering the information, but also how people may be inspired and apply it to their lives,” said Evans. Baldwin was an essayist, playwright and novelist regarded as an iconic writer with works like “The Fire Next Time” and “Another Country.”

Baldwin broke new literary ground with the exploration of racial and social issues in his many works. He was especially well known for his essays on the black experiences in America.

His literary work “The Fire Next Time” is a collection of essays that were meant to educate white people on what it meant to be black in America. It also gave white readers a view of themselves through the eyes of the African-American community.

He is now the subject of the Academy Award-nominated documentary “I Am Not Your Negro” by Haitian filmmaker Raoul Peck.

“Baldwin was, and continues to be important, necessary and relevant because his voice remains to be one of the strongest and fearlessly clear when it comes to the need for equality in the areas of race, gender, class and home (sense of belonging),” said Evans.

The literary salon will be held in building S2 inside the Recital Hall at 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. and admission is free to all.

In Tribute- Artist Charles Reese (left) and choreographer Pat Taylor (right) will perform a tribute to James Brown (middle) on March 16.

This article has 2 Comments

  1. Thank you Tiana! Brava!
    Hope your words get more through those doors….not just of the theatre but of their own lives as well.

  2. This is sooooooo wonderful that this is happening on our campus. Thanks to the Students Associated Union for inviting these artists. I googled Charles Reese. He is a James Baldwin expert. WOW. I am just learning about James Baldwin. Everybody should really check this one out!!!!!!

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