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Black Arts Festival 2019 Roundup

By Crimson Arts, Crimson Staff Writer

From March 3 to March 8, the Kuumba Singers' Black Arts Festival held events from panel talks to writing workshops to film screenings. The Festival, titled "Envision" in 2019, offered Harvard students a "celebration of creativity in the black community." Here's some of what the Festival included.

"Vision & Justice"

Vivien L. Tran, Contributing Writer

Even as temperatures dropped and snow blanketed Harvard’s grounds, students, alumni, and Boston locals made the trek to the Barker Center to listen to Harvard professor Sarah E. Lewis and renowned photographer Tyler Mitchell speak about the intersection between visual arts and justice. Read more here.

"From the Mind's Eye"

Derrick Ochiagha, Contributing Writer

On March 5, “From the Mind’s Eye” — a black filmmakers screening offered by Kuumba’s Black Arts Festival — brought experimental films and community discourse to the Leverett Library Theater. The evening started with screenings of experimental films by students and black filmmakers, followed by a community discussion on the work presented. The films included “Office Hours,” a comedic look at the life of a teaching fellow by Jasi Lampkin, and Frances Bodomo’s “Boneshaker,” which chronicled an African family lost in America traveling to a Louisiana church. Read more here.

"Sing it, Sister!"

Molly M. Martinez, Contributing Writer

Chatter rose in anticipation for “Sing it, Sister!” — an open mic that was part of the Black Arts Festival (BAF) — to start. The event, located at the Queen’s Head Pub, was an opportunity for the Harvard community to come together to sing, speak, and rap about what was on their minds. Read more here.

"Drag as a Black Imaginary Space"

Annie Harrigan, Contributing Writer

On March 7, “Drag as a Black Imaginary Space” — the second-to-last installation of the 2019 Black Arts Festival — brought a discussion of queerness, race, and drag to the Phillips Brooks House. The event was moderated by gender studies scholar Omise’eke Tinsley, a visiting professor from the University of Texas, Austin who taught a famed “Beyoncé Feminism, Rihanna Womanism” course last semester. The panel consisted of five drag queens of color from the greater Boston area: Civil Lie Zation (also known as Maiyan when not in drag), Nadya Plaything, Qya Cristál, Severity Stone, and Anya Nuttz. The event, organized by Black Arts Festival co-chairs Antonia L. Scott ’20 and Gabrielle S. Preston ’20, attracted approximately 30 people. Read more here.

“Black Writers Workshop x Winter Tangerine”

Liana E. Chow, Crimson Staff Writer

In a 1982 interview, Audre Lorde described how black female writers derive the greatest insights from following their feelings rather than from accepting education imposed on them. “Our feelings are our most genuine paths to knowledge,” Lorde said. On March 6, poet Nabila Lovelace discussed and advocated this philosophy as part of “Black Writers Workshop x Winter Tangerine,” an hour-long workshop she led in Farkas Hall. The session also included a world-building exercise, reflections on the writing process, a reading of a Lucille Clifton poem, and a group of student writers gathered together to participate. Read more here.

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