Paine College Hosts Editors of the Black Arts Movement Reader: SOS—Calling All Black People

Posted by painewebmaster | 04/11/2015 07:42 AM

With recent accounts of growing racial tensions in Ferguson, New York City, and other cities across the country, and with the release of film “Selma,” civil rights and social justice is a hot topic on college campuses. During the 2015 Conference on the Black Experience (COBE) hosted annually at Paine College, three renown civil rights activists and scholars will discuss the activism of the past and of the present in conjunction with the release of their reader on the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s. The book talk and signing event for SOS—Calling All Black People (2014) will be held in Candler Memorial Library on Tuesday, April 28 at 7 p.m.  All three co-editors, Sonia Sanchez, John H. Bracey, Jr., and James Smethurst will autograph patrons’ books.

Sonia Sanchez is a nationally and internationally known warrior, poet, activist, professor, and author, who was a friend and frequent collaborator of the late Amiri Baraka during the Black Arts Movement. Sanchez and Baraka, along with Nathan Huggins, launched the first Black Studies program at a predominantly white university at San Francisco State in the late 1960s. Last November, Sanchez visited Paine College as the featured keynote for the 2014 Conference on the Harlem Renaissance. At that time, Sanchez expressed an interest in returning to the campus with her co-editors of SOS—Calling All Black People to present a panel discussion currently touring across the country. She will also offer a poetry workshop on the campus in Candler on Tuesday at 12:15 p.m.

John H. Bracey, Jr. is currently a professor and chair of the Department of Afro-American Studies at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst (UMA). Bracey was active in the Civil Rights, Black Liberation, and other radical movements of Chicago. As one of the earlier builders of the Afro-American Studies Program at UMA, he has collaborated on numerous publications, contributed editorial work on projects such as the Papers of the NAACP, Amiri Baraka, and the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs. He has also been instrumental in the establishing of the Ph.D. program in Afro-American Studies and the graduate certificate in African Diaspora Studies. At COBE, Bracey will share his knowledge and experience regarding activism with conference participants. 

James Smethurst is also a professor in the Department of Afro-American Studies at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. Smethurst is a literary historian who has authored several books including: The New Red Negro: The Literary Left and African American Poetry, 1930-1946, The Black Arts Movement: Literary Nationalism in the 1960s and 1970s, and The African American Roots of Modernism: Reconstruction to the Harlem Renaissance. He is also the co-editor of Left of the Color Line: Race, Radicalism and Twentieth-Century Literature of the United States and Radicalism in the South since Reconstruction. During the visit to Paine College, Smethurst will talk with faculty about teaching and researching the literature of social justice. 

The connecting thread between Paine College and these notable professors is Catherine L. Adams. She is an assistant professor of English in the Humanities Department at Paine, and is also a former student of Sanchez (who retired from Temple University), Bracey, and Smethurst. Says Adams, “It is a unique honor to introduce my students to the people who strongly influenced who I am and the issues we discuss in the classroom today.”