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Ancestral Witnesses: Maya Angelou & Amiri Baraka

April 6, 2015 @ 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm

This event is free and open to all.
Registration is required.  Register now at bit.ly/ancestralwitnesses.

Monday, April 6, 2015
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
515 Malcolm X Boulevard
New York, NY 10037

As a series, Ancestral Witnesses will explore the intersections of religion and African American literature produced during the social upheavals of the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements and their aftermath. The panels will feature discussions that examine how black writers engaged religion in their efforts to imagine black liberation and human freedom, as well as how black religions have shaped African American literary visions. We define “religion” broadly to include not only Islam and Christianity, but also African-derived practices (i.e. voodoo or hoodoo) and “new” belief systems (i.e. Rastafarianism and the International Peace Movement Mission).

Our capacious understanding of religion is reflected in the writings and life experiences of literary figures themselves.  In the fall, we focused on James Baldwin and Audre Lorde.  This April, we will look at the work and lives of Maya Angelou and Amiri Baraka.

While Maya Angelou and Amiri Baraka will be the focal points for this event, the series will explore how religion and spirituality figured in the life and work of a range of other black writers. Alongside the roundtable conversation, there will be choreographed readings from selected texts and musical performances, given music’s centrality to both African American literary and religious traditions alike.

Panelists at the event include:
Elizabeth Alexander, Yale University
Eddie Glaude, Princeton University
Farah Jasmine Griffin, Columbia University
Obery Hendricks, Columbia University

Josef Sorett, Columbia University

With selected readings,
and a musical performance by:

Imani Uzuri, composer, vocalist

Readings by performers to be announced.

This event is sponsored by the Institute for Religion, Culture, and Public LifeColumbia University School of the Arts; the Institute for Research in African American Studies; and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.


April 6, 2015
6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Event Category:


Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, NYPL
515 Malcolm X Blvd
New York, NY 10037 United States
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