January 24, 2012 |
Joe Turner's Come and Gone is a big, strong, juicy play, and Plays & Players' production is just as big, strong, and juicy. Representing the second decade in August Wilson's "Century Cycle," Joe Turner takes place a hundred years ago in 1911, a suitable choice for Plays & Players Theater's 100th anniversary. While the building may be old, the company is new; it's led by Daniel Student, who is rapidly proving himself a young director of range and vision. Joe Turner - brother of Pete Turner, a late-19th-century governor of Tennessee - arbitrarily seized black men off the streets and forced them into slave farm labor for periods of seven years.
December 30, 2011 |
WASHINGTON - Almost two centuries before there was a man named Obama in the White House, there was a man named Obama shackled in the bowels of a slave ship. There is no proof that the unidentified Obama has ties to President Obama. All they share is a name. But that is exactly the commonality that Emory University researchers hope to build upon as they delve into the origins of Africans who were taken up and sold. They have built an online database around those names - http://www.african-origins.org/ - and welcome input from people who may share a name that is in the database, or have such names as part of their family lore.
December 2, 2011 |
A FEDERAL JUDGE yesterday showed no mercy on a wealthy Chester County lawyer who was found guilty by a jury in October 2010 of traveling to Russia to engage in a sexual relationship with an underage boy. U.S. District Judge Juan Sanchez likened Kenneth Schneider, 47, of Berwyn, to a "monster" who forced a 12-year-old boy to "become his sex slave" for six years. Then he sentenced Schneider to 15 years behind bars. Prosecutors alleged that Schneider in 1998 offered to assist Roman Zavarov, then 12, by paying his board at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Moscow.
November 22, 2011 |
Coffee-table books are supposed to be heavy, on photos and in pounds. This latest history of black life in America by Henry Louis Gates Jr. is both, with more than 750 photos on nearly 500 pages. But it offers something more: The distinguished Harvard University professor packs intellectual heft around the pictures. His book updates black history with recent scholarly research, from detailed estimates of the human cargo during the Atlantic slave trade to the DNA test proving almost conclusively that Thomas Jefferson fathered at least one child by his slave Sally Hemings.
October 7, 2011 |
The most surprising thing about Amiri Baraka's race-war fantasy The Slave - produced for the Philly Urban Theatre Festival by Iron Age Theatre Company - is that it has aged better than Dutchman, his most celebrated work and the companion to this piece. This, despite its "kill whitey" ethos, its proclamation by black revolutionary leader Walker Vessels (Richard Bradford) that his children with white ex-wife Grace Easley (Lesley Berkowitz) are "freakish mulattoes," and the frequency with which Vessels calls Grace's current husband, Brad (Bob Weick)
August 19, 2011 |
LOS ANGELES - It may seem odd, with "The Help" gobbling up box-office dollars, to lament the lack of movies about African-Americans. But the announcement Tuesday that Brad Pitt, Chiwetel Ejiofor and director Steve McQueen would collaborate on a new film called "Twelve Years a Slave" brought to the fore an uncomfortable reality: It may be a very good moment for movies about black history, but it's a terrible time for movies about the contemporary black...
July 31, 2011 |
WASHINGTON - In the Confederate circles he navigated, John Scobell was considered just another Mississippi slave: singing, shuffling, illiterate, and ignorant of the Civil War going on around him. Confederate officers thought nothing of leaving important documents where Scobell could see them, or discussing troop movements in front of him. Whom would he tell? Scobell was only the butler, or the deckhand on a rebel sympathizer's steamboat, or the field hand belting out Negro spirituals in a powerful baritone.
May 29, 2011
The Civil War Awakening By Adam Goodheart Alfred A. Knopf. 481 pp. $28.95 Reviewed by Edward Colimore The decision to leave didn't come easily. Maj. Robert Anderson had been ordered to command the federal garrison at Fort Moultrie, one of three forts protecting Charleston Harbor in South Carolina in 1860. More than 80 years earlier, the fort had been the scene of an American victory over the British just days before the Declaration of Independence. Anderson's father helped defend it. But as the nation edged closer to civil war, Moultrie was clearly vulnerable - not so much from foreign fleets, but from the secessionists on land.
May 20, 2011 |
For as long as people have labored in offices, architects have been promising to make the American workplace more bearable. Yet, more often than not, employees spend their days chained to their desks under a nimbus of fluorescent tubes. The only thing recycled is the air, and windows are a mere rumor. People must resort to their computers to find out if it's raining. The green movement has certainly brought some improvements to the world of the cubicle slave. Eager to win the sweepstakes run by the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED program, employers will gladly install energy- and dollar-saving heating and cooling systems.
May 13, 2011
Near the end of her recent lecture at the Academy of Natural Sciences, Andrea Wulf touched on the role slavery played in the agrarian and horticultural lives of our nation's early presidents. Too bad it came at the end of her talk. It's one of the most fascinating parts of her new book Founding Gardeners: The Revolutionary Generation, Nature, and the Shaping of the American Nation (Alfred A. Knopf, $30). For while she deftly conveys the idea that George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison were passionate to the point of obsession about their fields, crops, seeds, and - as they say in the trade nowadays - "ornamentals and edibles," Wulf also lays out the details of a disquieting and not altogether unfamiliar truth: that, for three of those presidents, a belief in liberty and equality coexisted with slave ownership.