Thursday, January 31, 2008

Harlem On My Mind: Children's Literature, Dinner At Aunt Connie's House

Originally written on 1/14/06 on pseudo-intellectualism. From childrenslit.com:

"Faith Ringgold grew up during the Depression years and was nurtured by hope. Now she creates bold, brilliant children's books that shine with color. Ringgold celebrates the hope that once nurtured her, and offers it to children living in another difficult era. Ringgold's finds a new freedom when she writes for children. "One of the things you can do so well with children is to blend fantasy and reality. Kids are ready for it, they don't have to have everything lined up and real. It's not that they don't know it's not real, they just don't care." Dinner at Aunt Connie's House (1993, Hyperion, Ages 6 and up, $14.95) Ringgold's third children's book, is a story built on concentric rings of hope. First, Ringgold offers hope to Lonnie, an orphan newly adopted by Aunt Connie. The story is told by his cousin Melody, who falls "in love with him the first time I saws him." Not only does Ringgold sustain Lonnie with a caring cousin and the magic of immediate relationship, she fortifies him with the strong Swahili proverb "A good tree grows among thorns." Readers get the sense that he's taken the strength to heart. During a game of hide-and-seek, Lonnie and Melody discover portraits created by their Aunt Connie. From the walls of Aunt Connie's attic gallery, twelve African-American women speake with an inspiration as strong as Ringgold's art. Ringgold introduces children to Fannie Lou Hamer, civil rights activist; sculptor Augusta Savage; actress Dorothy Dandridge, and others including well-known figures like Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth. All the women faced difficult situations and have an important message of hope to bring to today's children.
Ringgold believes, "since we are going to encounter scary situations, we need reinforcement when we do. We need to be aware that life is very scary. We also need to understand what other people have gone through in their lives-to understand who they are and why they are as they are. Children learn by seeing people doing things. If all they see are people that don't try, it's going to be difficult for them to try. People who reinforce us in these desperate times are to be celebrated, like Harriet Tubman, they came through." Ringgold's art provides her with hope too. "Hope isn't something you get, and then you've got it, and you don't need it anymore. You need a daily dose of it. Sometimes you need it three, four, five times a day."

Here's part of the book in slide show form

Black Colonists At Breed's Hill

video
from great cartoons archived from a Virginia based newspaper called the Daily Press
For audio I found a great resource from Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities called Massachusetts Moments.

Sojourner Truth: You Have The Cool, Clear Eyes Of A Seeker Of Wisdom And Truth

video
Originally from 2/7/07 but youtube video was deleted.
Who would have thought of the possibilities of combining the swinging Basie/Sinatra version of "I Believe In You" with the story of Sojourner Truth, who definitely had "the cool, clear eyes of a seeker of wisdom and truth."

You have the cool, clear
Eyes of a seeker of wisdom and truth;
Yet there's that upturned chin
And that grin of impetuous youth.
Oh, I believe in you.
I believe in you.
I hear the sound of good, solid judgment
Whenever you talk;
Yet there's the bold, brave spring of the tiger
That quickens your walk.
Oh, I believe in you.
I believe in you.

Crispus Attucks And The Boston Massacre

video
A slide show I put together from great cartoons archived from a Virginia based newspaper called the Daily Press
In order to take advantage of the Google Video Player I had to modify the size and boost the resolution of the individual frames of the comic strip. I did the best that I could. I used an application called Genuine Fractals/PrintPro. For audio I found a great resource from Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities called Massachusetts Moments. I captured an audio that went with the strip on the Boston Massacre and Crispus Attucks.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Fired Up And Ready To Go

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Barack Obama-He could be the first President who can dance.

A Tisket, A Tasket: A Black History Salute To Ella Fitzgerald

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from pseudo-intellectualism from 2/11/07

Some say Billie, some say Sarah, some say Dinah. I still say Ella was number one. She was honored on January 30th with the latest stamp in the Black Heritage commemorative series. There's a really good kids' book about Ella by the Pinkney's and the kids love this song

God Bless The Child

video
originally from pseudo-intellectualism from 2/21/07
a karaoke (with Billie) movie version of the beautifully illustrated Pinkney book on "God Bless The Child"

Harlem A Train Tour

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Originally from Pseudo-Intellectualism dated 2/26/07

A compilation of Harlem photos I've taken over the year set to various versions of A Train

The Great Migration

video
originally from pseudo-intellectualism from 2/26/07:

I youtubed this slide show I made last year from Jacob Lawrence's book. I recently converted it to a DVD format and discovered it won't convert with a midi soundtrack (which I did originally for file size considerations), so I added Ellington's "Misty Morning" and "Night Train" instead. I think it works. There's just enough resolution to see some of the text in this smaller version. I also discovered that slide shows that work manually won't work as a DVD, so they all need an automatic timing mechanism.

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