Oral History of Black Leadership
October 25, 2008 1:52 PM   Subscribe

Explorations in Black Leadership is a collection of video interviews with prominent African-Americans, focusing on activists of one sort or another. 34 people are interviewed, including Nikki Giovanni, John Lewis, Barbara Lee, Bobby Rush, Dorothy Height and Amiri Baraka. There are full transcripts of every interview. Here's an excerpt from the Nikki Giovanni interview: "The kids today have to have a voice. I'm amazed that they found it. I remember Sugarhill Gang with Sylvia, you know: "Uptown, Downtown, the Holiday Inn." You know, things like that. Then, of course, I remember the explosion of Tupac Shakur. Losing Tupac was a great loss for this generation. I have a tattoo--it says "Thug Life" --because I wanted to mourn with this generation. I don't see how people can knock the kids…paying so little attention. I had deep regrets--and I know Rosa Parks, you know, we don't hang out but I know her--I so regretted that she lent her name to be used against Outkast, because Rosa Parks is a wonderful--is a wonderful tune. And they were giving her problems. If people don't--if the younger generation doesn't sing the praises of the older generation they get forgotten."
posted by Kattullus (8 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
I can't quite say why but I find it incredibly charming that Nikki Giovanni has a tattoo that says "Thug Life."
posted by Kattullus at 1:53 PM on October 25, 2008

huh, Just posted about African art. With your excellent Black Leadership and Wassup, it's a black day on the blue.
posted by nickyskye at 2:20 PM on October 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

Bessie Smith and Dee Dee Warwick too. Guess we're all getting excited about the possibility of Obama. I am anyway.
posted by nickyskye at 2:23 PM on October 25, 2008

It's been hella gay around here lately too.
posted by serazin at 2:56 PM on October 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

I am anyway.

I am too. Let's hope it all works out.
posted by cashman at 4:07 PM on October 25, 2008

I find it incredibly charming that Nikki Giovanni has a tattoo that says "Thug Life."

Me too.

She spoke at a summer program when I was in high school and showed us that tattoo--I loved her immediately. She had a brand of fierceness that I'd never seen before. Listening to her was the beginning of my understanding how important it is to hear poetry and its rhythms, and my first exposure to any kind of modern Black radical politics. It really was a transformative moment.

Thanks, Katullus, I can't wait to wade into these.
posted by hippugeek at 6:15 PM on October 25, 2008

My favorite Nikki Giovanni quote is one that I've had taped to my bulletin board for years:

"Show me someone not full of herself and I'll show you a hungry person"

- from Poem For A Lady Whose Voice I Like
posted by amyms at 11:15 PM on October 25, 2008

I think Nikki Giovanni is a really cool lady, and besides that, I dig her poetry too. I point a lot of my young students towards her to get them from writing poems that mean something to them, to poems that mean something to them and everybody else.
posted by Tesseractive at 2:37 PM on October 26, 2008

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