Tag Archives: Weeksville Heritage Center

The M(N)STRY: The Legacy of Black Arkives


legacy+brochure+final+(spreads)Etymology of Legacy: late 14c., legacie, “body of persons sent on a mission,” from Medieval Latin legatia, from Latin legatus“ambassador, envoy, deputy,” noun use of past participle of legare “send with a commission, appoint as deputy, appoint by a last will” (see legate).

Can the archive be our arsenal and the archivist our warrior in this current war on memory and information? As ambassadors of the black archive, what stories are we sending out and leaving behind? Going in October and last month to the Weeksville Center’s The Legacy Project and their events centered around black archival work and memory reinforced that for me. The Legacy Project is “a continuum of James Weeks’ self-determining actions.” James Weeks, a freedman, purchased land in Brooklyn during the pre-Civil War era and with that land created what became the second largest known independent Black community in the U.S. Under threat of being forgotten, “in 1968, a small group of community activists rediscovered these four dilapidated houses that were rare residential remnants of historic Weeksville. Its rediscovery led to the restoration of the Hunterfly Road Houses, and the formalization of the Society for the Preservation of Weeksville and Bedford-Stuyvesant History, later known as Weeksville Heritage Center.” “The Legacy Project will continue this evolution through activating WHC’s archives, building annual public programs, public training workshops, and an internship program for students of color” interested in archival work.

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Modern Griots Reviews: Notes from #FunkGodJazzMedicine Conversations


Below are some notes from two of the three conversations from Funk, God, Jazz and Medicine:

Conversation on Self-Determination: Black Radical Brooklyn: Past, Present, and Future

*The history of Weeksville (James Weeks bought land in order to vote) and the four projects of Funk, God, Jazz and Medicine pointed out the intersections between race and space, that part of self-determination is the ability to claim and preserve safe spaces and refuges.

*Weeksville’s history and the protects also stressed sustainability, creating sustainable projects that benefit the community and environment. Instead of looking at the community as having deficits, we look at it as having a richness of resources and assets.

*Art should not be for just for art’s sake, but should encourage political action and involve the community and community organizations to build solutions together. For example, MacArthur Fellow Rick Lowe has a community revitalization project in Houston where he transforms a block and half of houses in poor condition into Project Row Houses (PRH).

*We need to support more of our own institutions before they disappear. Several of the institutions and organizations in the Weeksville neighborhood struggled to stay open, including the three places involved in the exhibition — Stuyvesant Mansion, AME Church and Weeksville Heritage Center. As gentrification creeps in, it is more and more difficult to keep these institutions here.

Continue reading Modern Griots Reviews: Notes from #FunkGodJazzMedicine Conversations

Modern Griot Reviews: #FunkGodJazzMedicine at Weeksville


IMG_3676Our society often focuses more on representation and showing images of oppressed people as proof we have “progressed,” but the other side of true moving forward for people who live in oppressive societies is self-determination, something that often gets ignored for the more superficial representation only politics. Self-determination is the freedom and ability to control your own life, taking full responsibility in making decisions for yourself that will impact your future. That is something often not celebrated or promoted when it comes to those of us who are not at the top; we are expected to remain dependent on the dominant powers.

The recent month-long exhibition at Weeksville Heritage Center in Brooklyn, set out to highlight ways black communities in Brooklyn have in the past and today are doing actions of self-determination. Funk, God, Jazz and Medicine: Black Radical Brooklyn honored the history of the neighborhood of Weeksville in Brooklyn, founded by James Weeks, who bought land in 1838 in that area in order to receive the right to vote and convinced other black people to do the same. New Weeksville executive director Tia Powell Harris listed a few words that represents the history of Weeksville and the projects: empowerment, equity, sustainability, self empowerment and self actualization. Placing four different art and community projects throughout the neighborhood as well as having different conversations focused on the different aspects of the exhibition, Funk, God, Jazz and Medicine revealed interconnections between self-determination, community, politics, art, spirituality and health that often are disregarded in the individualistic mainstream culture.

The four parts of the title were attributed to each project:

Continue reading Modern Griot Reviews: #FunkGodJazzMedicine at Weeksville

Moving on the Wires: News, Posts, New Music


Melanie “Coco” Mccoy

*The Sci-fi anthology, Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction From Social Justice Movements, will be released in Spring 2015 by AK Press! The anthology includes short stories from LeVar Burton, Terry Bisson, Alexis Pauline Gumbs, Alixa Garcia, Autumn Brown, Bao Phi, David Walker, Dani McClain, Dawolu Jabari Anderson, Gabriel Teodros, Jelani Wilson, Kalamu ya Salaam, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, Mia Mingus, Morrigan Phillips, Tara Betts, Tunde Oluniran, Vagabond, adrienne maree brown and Walidah Imarisha, essays by Tananarive Due and Mumia Abu-Jamal, as well as an introduction by Sheree Renee Thomas.

*Kickstarter fundraiser for Latino/a Rising , an anthology featuring U.S.-based Latino/a science fiction work.

*Fundraiser for “Kindred: School-Wide Summer Reading” class project (Ms. Durkin‘s Books project at Coppin Academy 432 in Baltimore, MD): Help every student in the class receive a copy of Octavia Butler’s book!

*Afropunk’s “FEATURE: Visual Artist Melanie “Coco” McCoy Unravels The Mystery of Sankofa & Afrofuturism:” “When you scroll through Black Twitter or Tumblr you see a lot of young, Black radicals talking about protesting the injustices against our communities and wanting to change the mainstreams ideas pressed on us. However, how many of those “activists” do you really see out in the streets making that wanted change? Visual artist and writer Melanie “Coco” McCoy is regularly amongst the mobs of protesters on and off the computer screen. She stands for Black liberation, feminism/womanism, Black history, spirituality, Afrofuturism, Black female sexuality, and Afrocentric ideals. Many of these resonate in Coco’s paintings. She uses the ideas she studies at Temple University as a African American Studies major and incorporates them into much of her work. Much of her work is based on Sankofa. Sankofa is an Akan word (originating in Ghana) meaning, ‘to go back and fetch it.’ Coco believes deeply in that saying (that we’ve all heard time and time again) ‘you don’t know where you’re going unless you know where you’re coming from.’”

*Atlanta Blackstar’s Blerd’s “Black Speculative Tech – Uses of Technology in Black Science Fiction, Part 1:” Rasheedah Phillips (The Afrofuturist Affair) is looking for other examples as well.

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Otherworldly Videos: Afropunk Presents….


Wangechi  Mutu

Sanford Biggers

Barron Clairborne

On MAY 24th at BROOKLYN MUSEUM, Afro-punk pictures presents “The Triptych,” in association with Weeksville Heritage Center. This short-film series (Dir. Terence Nance, Dir. of Photography Shawn Peters, Co-Dir. Barron Claiborne) highlights the work of artists Sanford Biggers, Wangechi Mutu, and Barron Claiborne. Live music and a Q&A with the artists will follow the screening. This event is supported by Heineken.

The Triptych is a unique and profound documentary series profiling some of the most outspoken visual artists of our time. Produced by Afro-punk pictures, the documentary is itself a work of art, featuring three intimate 20-minute conversations with three bold and culturally resonant voices in art. Each monologue is a reflection of their life experience, letting the viewer discover how their observations have shaped the art they create.

The first in the series features Sanford Biggers, Barron Claiborne and Wangechi Mutu – contemporaries, luminaries and friends. Spanning the artistic gamut from interdisciplinary to photography and performance, their keen reflections on the world are at once startling and insightful.

Co-visionary, Barron Claiborne joins nascent director Terence Nance whose new film, An Oversimplification of Her Beauty, premiered at Sundance 2012. Terrence makes art as a means of creating culture.

As a purveyor of the Black experience, Afro-punk is dedicated to supporting and disseminating the work of visual artists that are prevalent in our society.

The tickets for the three part documentary tickets are $12 and the film will be at 7pm.

As space is limited, advance purchase of nonrefundable tickets for general admission and a reserved seat at the screening is recommended via www.museumtix.com. Members receive free admission; please call the Membership Hotline at (718) 501-6326 for reservations.

Another documentary to be on the lookout for Afropunk member, Sheila J. Hardy‘s “Nice and Rough,” about Black women in rock music. It is expected to premiere in 2012.Visit Indiegogo.com/Nice-Rough and Eveslime.com for more information.