On Sunday, a friend and I went to the Southwest Fulton Arts Center for Raisin’ Cane, a superb production that featured the talented Jasmine Guy and Avery Sharpe Trio.
With charm, wit, various accents, and dance, Jasmine Guy led us on a journey to witness the Harlem Renaissance from the eyes of Jean Toomer, author of Cane (which has definitely been added to my reading list), and from many other perspectives of greats. Ms. Guy shared with us the philosophies and legacies of New Negroes and others who played imperative roles in the cultural explosion that was the Harlem Renaissance. Folks like W.E.B. DuBois, Booker T. Washington, Marcus Garvey, Zora Neale Hurston, Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen, Claude McKay, and of course, Jean Toomer. As I was travelling over time, I was also reminded of a trip a couple of years or so ago to the Smithsonian American Art Museum, where I fell in love with the works of Aaron Douglas. Douglas’ works captivated me–they illustrate black struggle and determination so elegantly. Not only was the music cleverly entwined with Jasmine Guy’s oratorical chronicle, but the visual props, pictures, and mementos were also engaging.
Raisin’ Cane not only excited me as it reinforced what I have already learned about black historical figures, their works, their ideas, and their hopes and dreams–it also inspired me to delve into more research, to find out more, to ignite that (huge) part of me that longs to make a substantial difference in our communities. I’ll be back with nuggets of the experience that really struck cords with me throughout the production.
Until then, as Ms. Guy ended the production, I will end my blog post:
Besides, They'll see how beautiful I am And be ashamed-- I, too, am America.