Black Arts Archives Panel

On Friday afternoon, September 29, we hosted the panel “Archiving the Black Arts Movement and Beyond” in Gilman Hall 50, beginning at 4:30pm.  The panel featured Sonia Sanchez, Keith Gilyard, Steve Cannon, and Gloria Jirsaraie.

The panel investigated the challenging circumstances of archiving the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s and 1970s, both within traditional academic institutions and in alternative spaces outside of the academy, including museums and private-public research collectives.  As one of the signature living members of the “Black Arts Movement” cohort, writer Sonia Sanchez has recently published the important anthology SOS collecting the movement’s key works.  Novelist Steve Cannon, her contemporary, a key interlocutor of Ishmael Reed’s and who regularly interviewed and corresponded with Ralph Ellison and Chester Himes, currently heads an innovative arts collective called A Gathering of Tribes.   Professor Gilyard,   an early student of Sonia Sanchez’s and a colleague of Steve Cannon’s, discussed his work on Louise Thompson Patterson and John Oliver Killens.  English Department Ph D candidate Gloria Jirsarie present a critical overview of the movement’s achievements.   The panel began with a crucial local component, a formal address from Baltimorean Charles Dugger, an Edmondson Senior High School English teacher, who has organized citywide Black Arts initiatives for over 40 years.  Breaking new ground, we engaged in a public discussion regarding the difficulties of collecting incendiary arts materials designed for radical publics while simultaneously recognizing the vital need for the historical preservation of narratives of black arts struggle.