- Created on 18 December 2012
(AP) — President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation and Martin Luther King Jr.'s March on Washington for Civil Rights were 100 years apart, but both changed the nation and expanded freedoms.
Beginning Friday, the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture is presenting a walk back in time through two eras. A new exhibit, "Changing America," parallels the 1863 emancipation of slaves with the 1963 March on Washington.
An inkwell Lincoln used to draft what would become the Emancipation Proclamation is on display on one side of the timeline, while the pen President Lyndon Johnson used to sign the Civil Rights Act is on the other.
A rare signed copy of the 13th Amendment to abolish slavery — once owned by abolitionist House Speaker Schuyler Colfax, who helped push the resolution through Congress — is on loan from businessman David Rubenstein. It echoes the plotline of the current movie "Lincoln."
At times when some believed slavery would never end and later that segregation would never end,history shows that creative leadership can "find a way to perfect America," museum Director Lonnie Bunch said.
"It took courage, it took strategy, it took loss," he said. "But ultimately, it changed America for the better."
The exhibit is on view through September at the National Museum of American History while the black history museum is under construction.
The Smithsonian is publicly displaying several artifacts from slave life for the first time to set the scene for emancipation. They include the Bible that belonged to Nat Turner, who led a slave rebellion in Virginia, and a shawl given to abolitionist Harriet Tubman by Queen Victoria. Another section includes shackles used to chain children, a slave whip and buttons used to identify people as property.
A broadside advertising a slave sale announces that "plantation hands" would be auctioned in the rotunda of the St. Louis Hotel.
The museum also acquired a tent from a "contraband camp" or "freedmen's village" that sprung up to house slaves that had self-emancipated by crossing over Union lines.
"Slaves were not passive recipients of freedom," Bunch said. "In essence, their action of running away forced the federal government to create policies that culminated in the Emancipation Proclamation."
Facing the former slave's tent in the exhibit is Lincoln's everyday suit with a long black jacket, bow tie and his iconic top hat from the Smithsonian collection.
It is likely the first time Lincoln's suit has been next to an encampment that housed formerly enslaved people since 1865, said Harry Rubenstein, a curator of political history at the Smithsonian.
Displaying Lincoln's suit this way "tells a powerful story of him, in a sense, facing this encampment," Rubenstein said. Lincoln encountered such scenes every day in his final years, seeing encampments of freed slaves in Washington as he rode about town.
The Civil Rights section includes posters and placards carried in the March on Washington and shards of stained glass from the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala., where four young black girls were killed in an explosion.
Bunch said he wanted to mark the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation on Jan. 1 and the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington in August. He also wanted to reach the crowds attending President Barack Obama's inauguration in January. A passage from Obama's first inaugural speech is quoted in the exhibition opposite a quotation from abolitionist Frederick Douglass.
"I realized that the inauguration is a time when people begin to look back," Bunch said, "to understand who we once were as we also begin to look at who we might become."
- Created on 17 December 2012
Has slavery become the movie industry's new black?
That phrase seems appropriate, given the critical acclaim and widespread audience enthusiasm for two movies currently leading the award season buzz. Their emphasis on slavery is even stranger because they grace the silver screen during the traditionally family-oriented holiday season.
Django Unchained, Quentin Tarantino's latest ode to unrestrained violence and blood-soaked mayhem, and Lincoln, the celebrated Steven Spielberg period piece about the Great Emancipator, are notable for two specific reasons.
Although both are products of two entirely different genres, they are poised to dominate their competition as Hollywood fetes its own with gold statuettes.
Meanwhile, both movies address, rather forthrightly, a topic once believed too thorny for mainstream audiences, let alone the Caucasian directors at their helm.
What to make of slavery's new – and unexpected – popularity as cinematic fare? Not since Glory, the acclaimed 1989 Civil War film that earned a meager box office haul, have reviewers glommed onto a movie about slavery.
This time, audiences of all stripes seem more receptive to slavery-themed movies – a curious development given that just a decade ago, many gave a cold shoulder to Beloved and Amistad. Both were virtually declared dead on arrival when they landed at the box office.
Much like the Holocaust, works about slavery will forever be given velvet glove treatment because of the seriousness at the root of its subject matter. There's a tremendous amount of drama, for lack of a better term, when attempting to discuss race in America. Most of it is the outgrowth of the self-censorship that is itself a product of the enforced political correctness that dominates talk about race. The hypersensitivity that predominates this sore topic tends to grant de facto licenses to certain people who can broach racial matters, and on what terms. The end result is that artists steer clear of these rough cultural shoals, if for no reason other than to be spared the objurgation that ensues when white artists wade into racial affairs.
Although a work about slavery, the popularity of Lincoln is perhaps easily explained, if not understandable. There is always a groundswell of interest in movies with historical icons at their epicenter, especially when made by the closest thing Hollywood has to a living legend. Spielberg's name is practically a byword for cinematic excellence, and Abraham Lincoln is a seminal figure in the country's movement toward civil rights. He enjoys an historical cachet and mystique that puts audiences at ease, even if the subject matter is tough to swallow.
Even if the movie may have foregone a chance to illuminate a murky avenue of Lincoln's value system, the film is a triumph of fine acting and complex storytelling. The movie may have done itself a favor by maintaining a monomanical focus on the behind-the-scenes legislative process that lay behind the Emancipation Proclamation.
Yet it's Django that is emerging as the award season's most head-scratching oddity. How does any filmmaker, much less a white one, get away with turning the Civil War into a comedic Spaghetti western – and one the entertainment industrial complex has wholeheartedly embraced? Where Spielberg emotes, Tarantino eviscerates (literally and figuratively). His bombastic and often comical treatment of race should arguably prompt most moviegoers to take to the streets in protest.
The answer lies in Tarantino's grind-house aesthetic, along with an iconoclastic and irreverent style that gives him credibility with black audiences, for better or worse. In addition, most of the black actors who have worked with him in the past have spoken very highly of his directorial talent, which gives Tarantino a creative license that would be denied most other directors who would endeavor to make a race-themed movie.
All the more curious is that with Django, the notorious schlockmeister seems to have sunk to new depths of depravity. Less than fulsome praise has come from several quarters, most notably Entertainment Weekly, which bemoaned Tarantino's signature hyper-carnage and his "promiscuous" use of the n-word. In the past, the word has gotten Tarantino in hot water, and triggered a long-running war of words between he and fellow director Spike Lee.
With each successive decade, movies such as Glory, Amistad and even the critically-panned Beloved have brought about an inflection point, helping to till the very fertile cultural ground that exists between the intersection of history and race. Discussions which were once verboten are now legitimate discourse.
Thus, somber and loquacious prestige pictures like Lincoln, or jocular and bloody grind-house movies like Django, indirectly complement one another while stripping away old taboos.
- Created on 13 December 2012
In the spirit of the holidays and giving back to the greater Chatham area, Chatham 14 Theaters will host Movie with the Alderman.
On Saturday, December 15th, 21st Ward Ald. Howard B. Brookins, Jr., will visit Chatham 14 along with hundreds of community members and enjoy the one-time screening at 10 a.m. of the family favorites: "The Preacher's Wife (PG)," "The Polar Express (G)," "Madagascar 3 (PG)" and "The Karate Kid (PG)," simultaneously on four different screens.
Admission to the movie is free with the donation of a non-perishable food item, which will be given to the Food Depository.
Guests will also receive a free large popcorn with the additional donation of a new, unwrapped toy. (No stuffed animals, please.)
The South Chicago office of Boys and Girls Club of America will distribute these toys to needy children.
Plus, all children under 12 will receive a free raffle ticket to enter for a chance to win a new bicycle. And, Santa will make a visit from 9 a.m. to noon!
Chatham 14 is located at 210 West 87th Street. Theater doors will open at 9 a.m. For more information on the December 15th holiday activities at Chatham 14 Theaters, visit www.chatham14.com or call 773.783.8812.
- Created on 14 December 2012
New Global Destiny Int'l World Vision Ministries, Inc. welcomes the community to their Candy Wonderland Giveaway – 2013. There will be lots and lots of candy, cakes, toys and games for all.
This event will take place on Saturday, December 15, 2012 from 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm at New Global Destiny, 3406 W. 79th Street, Chicago, IL 60652.
This event is free to everyone.
Contact Apostle Bishop Bridget C. Outlaw at 773-510-9774 for more information and to pledge your donation to the Wonderland.
- Created on 12 December 2012
(AP) — Interior Secretary Ken Salazar endorsed a plan Tuesday to remove a disputed inscription from the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, rather than cut into the granite to replace it with a fuller quotation.
Salazar said he had reached an agreement with King's family, the group that built the memorial and the National Park Service to remove a paraphrase from King's "Drum Major" speech by carving grooves over the lettering to match existing marks in the sculpture. Memorial sculptor Lei Yixin recommended removing the inscription this way to avoid harming the monument's structural integrity.
Critics including poet Maya Angelou complained after the memorial opened in 2011 that the paraphrased quotation took King's words out of context, making him sound arrogant. The paraphrase reads: "I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness."
The full quotation was taken from a 1968 sermon about two months before King was assassinated. It reads: "Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter."
In a statement provided to The Associated Press, Salazar explained the resolution of the long disagreement over the inscription and how it should be repaired.
"I am proud that all parties have come together on a resolution that will help ensure the structural integrity of this timeless and powerful monument to Dr. King's life and legacy," Salazar said.
Work is scheduled to begin after the presidential inauguration, which falls on the King holiday, to commence in February or March of 2013 with completion expected in the spring, according to federal officials. The National Park Service expects thousands of people to visit the site around the time of King's birthday in January and didn't want to obstruct their views.
Federal officials will submit plans to two panels that must review and approve the design work.
Lei, the original sculptor, will perform the stone work to remove the inscription. The memorial will remain open to visitors during the project, though the statue of King may be obstructed at times by scaffolding.
In a joint statement released by the U.S. Interior Department, King's family voiced support for the new plan. King's youngest daughter Bernice King, who is chief executive of the King Center in Atlanta, thanked Salazar and the National Park Service for taking "care to maintain the spirit and appearance of such an important monument to our country's history and my father's memory."
King's sister, Christine King Farris, said the family had wanted the entire quotation to be inscribed in the memorial.
"While our family would have of course preferred to have the entire 'Drum Major' quote used, we fully endorse and support the secretary's proposal," she said.
The group that built the memorial said it was pleased with the compromise of removing the inscription.
Ed Jackson Jr., the memorial's executive architect, told the AP that the lettering will be replaced with horizontal "movement lines" that are already part of the design to show the movement of the central "Stone of Hope" out of a "Mountain of Despair" behind it.
The design was inspired by a line from King's "I Have a Dream" speech: "Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope." That message is inscribed on the other side of the sculpture and will remain.
Cutting granite out of the sculpture and replacing it to make way for a longer quotation would have looked like a "patch job" forever, Jackson said. Removing the inscription retains the integrity of the artwork, he said.
"We had put forth this idea over a year ago. It took a while for everyone to come to an agreement that everyone could live with," Jackson said.