The NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work — Non-Fiction

Temple University Press congratulates Envisioning Emancipation authors Deborah Willis and Barbara Krauthamer for being named Outstanding Literary Work – Non-Fiction at the NAACP Image Awards February 21.

Envisioning Emancipation_smBarbara Krauthamer, who attended the ceremony, gave the following acceptance speech:

Thank you to the NAACP and to everybody. It is wonderful to be here.  My co-author Dr. Deborah Willis could not be here, but I know that she joins me in thanking all of you. We’d like to thank our editor Janet Francendese and everybody at Temple University Press; all of the librarians and archivists who helped us.  When we dreamed of this book ten years ago we wanted to create a collective family album of photographs that showed African American survival, dignity and beauty, even through the most trying times of slavery and the triumph of emancipation and freedom.  Thank you, and we wanted to dedicate this to our mothers and to those who made a way when there was no way so we could be here today.  Thank you.
And here are some images from the NAACP Image Awards ceremony:

BK screen BK statue photo 2 BK with award

 

Let’s Talk about Sex and the Founding Fathers

In this Q&A, Sex and the Founding Fathers author Thomas A. Foster discusses our fascination with the intimate lives of historical figures.

Q: What do you think accounts for our interest in the private lives of public and/or historical figures?
TF: I think people are drawn to personal lives of famous people as a way of connecting to them. I have long been interested in the Founding Fathers as cultural icons. As I started reading biographies and doing research, I discovered that Americans have always been writing about the private lives of historical figures—sometimes with more imagination than evidence. It fascinated me to see how the stories change over time—often to suit the norms of the day. Apparently, people have been looking at the real men beneath the polished marble exterior for ages.

Q: Why is sex so critical for understanding the Founding Fathers today?
TF: The history of sexuality can tell us a lot about our culture and society. Sexuality is connected in vitally important ways to family, economy, politics, gender, race, class—you name it. Unless we know the history of sexuality, we will be missing the full picture of who we are and how we developed over time as a society. Studying how sex figures in our nation’s understanding of its Founders, shows that sexuality is part of that broader political and cultural identity that is being worked and reworked by every generation.

Author Thomas A. Foster

Author Thomas A. Foster

Q: So how does the desire to know the “real” Founders influence the stories we tell and remember?
TF: The whole idea of debunking myths of the Founders is an old one—and one that gets recycled over and over again. Americans are perennially hoping to reach the “truth” about the Founders—and sex is one way that they think they can get there. But for the most part it’s just a mirage. We have hardly any documentation for so much of what is spoken of as fact. One of the things that surprised me while writing Sex and the Founding Fathers is the way the stories change. Sexual standards shift over time and those broad changes become quite evident when we look at how the intimate lives of the Founders have been imagined by different generations.

Q: Historical rumors circulate that Washington was impotent, or that Alexander Hamilton was gay. How much faith can we put in these suggestions, innuendos, and accusations?
TF: That the stories about their sex lives change so much over time—and rest on very little actual documentation—is a sign that something else is going on than simply getting at the “true” man behind the public façade. As an historian of sexuality, I would argue that it’s extremely important that we recognize the ways that sex is taken up in discussion of national identity—with the Founding Fathers being one core element of that historical and cultural identity. How we go from Adams as a prickly prude to an amorous puritan, for example. Or how Americans feel compelled to speak about these political greats with the same superlatives—as being the most romantic, or the greatest love stories, etc.

Q: Right, reputations shift over time—for example, Thomas Jefferson has been variously idealized as a chaste widower, condemned as a child molester, and recently celebrated as a multicultural hero. How can we move from commemoration to accusation to celebration?
TF: There are multiple ways to read the Founders’ life stories. That these stories change over time shows that they’re crafted to serve cultural purposes—positioning Jefferson as a chaste widower was important in its day for many nineteenth-century audiences. Today that depiction doesn’t speak to us for a wide variety of reasons.

G-000865-20111017.jpgQ: Do you think Jefferson really “loved” Sally Hemings? How large is the gulf between what we know, what we can prove, and what we want to believe?
TF: The gulf is enormous, and we have so little to go on. The academic scholarship on sexual intimacy between masters and slaves tells us that the relationships were exploitive and abusive. But in popular depictions of Hemings and Jefferson, we often see them as in love and ahead of their time. We have no documentation to help us understand their relationship but we’re invested in imagining it as historically true. We certainly have no evidence that it was an abusive relationship, and we know that the Hemings family was positioned well on the plantation. We also know that Sally received some fine clothing while in Paris. And there is scholarly consensus that Jefferson fathered all of Hemings’s children. But as I point out in Sex and the Founding Fathers, establishing likely paternity is entirely different from trying to understand the interpersonal dynamic of a decades-long relationship. The relationship has been envisioned fairly unhesitatingly—in some popular venues as a romance.

Q: You address scandals in Eighteenth-century society, which contemporary politicians use to justify their own bad behavior. How have things changed—or stayed the same between Washington’s era and today’s digital age?
TF: Almost every scandal in Sex and the Founding Fathers was openly published. Jefferson, Washington, Hamilton, and Franklin all saw scandalous talk about their sex lives in print. However, typically, Americans remember their Founders favorably not negatively. Dirt on Adams? He certainly liked to think of himself as the most virtuous of the Founders. Americans have generally adopted a similar view. I think contemporary politicians find it helps them if they can point to Founders and say that they are similarly flawed (with the implication being that maybe they are similarly great in other areas).

Q: Gouverneur Morris is perhaps the least known Founding Father, and yet his extensive and explicit diaries reveal a treasure trove of unconventional sexuality, as well as details about his intimate life. What can you say about his attitudes toward sexuality that generates attention for him?
TF:
Gouverneur Morris left us the most material from which to understand his sexual identity and experiences. His diaries were quite explicit and he lived as a sexually active bachelor until he married at the age of 57. It’s not what he says as much as the fact that he said it that distinguished Morris. His writings capture late eighteenth-century ideas about sex out of wedlock—combining the rhetoric of love and companionship with a free expression and excitement about love and sexual pleasure.

African American Athletes and Academic Performance

This week, Gregory Kaliss, author of Men’s College Athletics and the Politics of Racial Equality(now available in paperback), pens an essay for Black History Month on African American athletes and education.

A recent spate of stories in the national news media has examined the serious problem with the academic performance of athletes at Division 1 colleges and universities. A study by the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania showed the significant gap between the academic performance of black student athletes in relation to their white peers, with the football players of the national champion Florida State Seminoles graduating at only a 37% rate. Equally troubling was a CNN story noting the academic deficiencies of men’s basketball and football players at the University of North Carolina and other public schools nationwide.
It seems quite clear that many student athletes, especially racial minorities, come to college unprepared to succeed and are offered little remedial help to bolster their chances for earning success.

These are serious issues and are especially meaningful in light of the hopes that black leaders had for college athletes to transform the racial landscape in the U.S. When African American leaders pushed for racial integration in the realm of college athletics, they did so in the hopes that sports participation would lead to broader changes in American society. Whites would see blacks and whites playing together as teammates. They would be forced to acknowledge the accomplishments of African Americans on the fields and in the classrooms of privileged institutions of higher learning. They would have to acknowledge black men as something other than the caricatures passed down through Hollywood films, biased media coverage, and various other cultural forms.
Like professional sports, integrated college sports would show that an equal opportunity society was possible once African Americans were given the chance to succeed. But college athletics had the added bonus of educating future black leaders to take up the cause of racial equality in later years.

Men's College AthleticsAs my own research for Men’s College Athletics and the Politics of Racial Equality, and the work of other scholars attests, those hopes dimmed over the years, especially as the 1960s progressed. White fans attempted to relegate black achievements to the realm of the physical, refusing to credit black male intelligence and leadership. Certain positions on teams, such as the quarterback, remained off-limits to black players for decades. And, most significantly, black athletes found that white coaches and university administrators had little concern for their academic wellbeing. Plucked from under-funded schools and completely unprepared for the rigors of college life, these student athletes found themselves taking just enough courses to remain eligible for their sport, only to discover that they had not worked toward a degree. When their time in sport was done, they had almost nothing to show for their time in college.

Although some of these issues have clearly improved over the years, the stories now circulating in the media suggest that many problems still remain in the academic realm. And they indicate that many administrators, coaches, players, and fans need to be reminded of the long struggle for African-American athletes to get an opportunity in Division 1 athletics, and the high hopes black leaders once had for college sports. In remembering those struggles and those aspirations, we may yet generate enough dialogue to create meaningful change in how our colleges and universities educate their student athletes.

Don’t Just Read Our Authors, Watch Them!

This week, we showcase a quartet of videos featuring Temple University Press authors talking about their books. Natalie Byfield revists the case of the Central Park Five, in her new book, Savage Portrayals; Tom Foster discusses Sex and the Founding Fathers; Karla Erickson talks about How We Die Now, and Dean Bartoli Smith answers Cullen Little’s questions about the Baltimore Ravens, the topic of his book,  Never Easy, Never Pretty.

Natalie Byfield, Savage Portrayals

From her perspective as a black, female reporter for the New York Daily News during the Central Park Five trial, Natalie Byfield shows how the media’s racialized coverage of the Central Park Jogger case influenced the conviction of five young minority men accused of “wilding” and affected the American juvenile justice system.  She recalls her experiences here:

Thomas Foster, Sex and the Founding Fathers

In this video, Foster explains why we are so interested in the private lives of public historical figures, and how the desire to know the “real” Founders has influenced the stories we tell and remember.  

Karla Erickson, How We Die Now

Here, Karla Erickson explains what prompted her to write about death and dying and the myths she debunks about “the longevity revolution.”  

Dean Bartoli Smith, Never Easy, Never Pretty

The author sits down with sports writer Cullen Little to discuss the Ravens and more.   

Going “Beyond the Paint” to celebrate Mural Arts in Philadelphia

This week in North Philly Notes, we highlight events associated with the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts exhibition Beyond the Paint: Philadelphia’s Mural Arts and Temple University Press’ new book, Philadelphia Mural Arts @ 30, edited by Jane Golden and David Updike.

Art in Action: National Leaders in Art as Social Practice

February 8th, 2014 3 to 6 pm
$20/General Admission; $10/Members
Seating is limited.

Four nationally-renowned innovators in art as a social practice come together in Philadelphia to present their work for one night only. In a series of TED-style presentations, they’ll inspire you to reimagine what art can look like when whole communities get involved. Presentations by nationally-renowned presenters include:

Mark Allen, Founder of the Machine Project (Los Angeles, CA)
Jane Golden, Executive Director of the Mural Arts Program (Philadelphia, PA)
Rick Lowe, Founder of Project Row Houses (Houston, TX)
Nato Thompson, Curator at Creative Time (New York, NY)

muraLAB at PAFA

Free with a registration.

muraLab is the Mural Arts Program’s experimental creativity hub for investigating muralism in the twenty-first century. During Beyond the Paint: Philadelphia’s Mural Arts, two muraLab programs will take place inside the exhibition to explore art as a social practice.

February 5th, 2014 6pm: Jon Rubin on Contextual Practice
Artist Jon Rubin – best known for his project Conflict Kitchen – is the director of the Contextual Practice program at Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Art. He recently collaborated with art consultant Barbara Goldstein on ARTPGH, a master plan for public art in Pittsburgh.

Book Preview and Signing

Phila Mural Arts 30_sm

March 12th, 2014 6:30 to 8:30 pm
5:30 Special Ticket: $40/General Admission; $30/Members
6:30 Free with a registration

Celebrate the release of Philadelphia Mural Arts @ 30!

The book features six essays and visual documentation to illustrate the growth of Mural
Arts in scale, practice, and engagement for over thirty years. Cynthia Weiss, a renowned
art educator, and contributor to Philadelphia Mural Arts @ 30, will give a keynote address.
A light reception and book signing with Jane Golden will follow.

April 2nd, 2014 6pm: Temporary Services

Temporary Services (Brett Bloom, Salem Collo-Julin, and Marc Fischer) produce exhibitions, publications, public interventions, events, and other projects in a socially engaged practice that purposely blurs the lines between artist, activist, and enthusiast. Currently, their Self-Reliance Library is installed in PAFA’s galleries as part of the Beyond the Paint exhibition.

Community Art Days

All community art-making programs take place inside the exhibition from 12 – 3 on Sunday afternoons.

February 9 Meet artist Ernel Martinez and participate in a group art-making project.

March 9 Meet artist Eric Okdeh and participate in a group art-making project.

March 16 Join artist Josh MacPhee and community members to screen print 3 x 4 foot broadsides by hand inside the galleries.

Talks and Workshops

All talks and workshops begin at 2 pm and take place in the Hamilton Building.

February 16 Restored Spaces Mural Arts’ Restored Spaces program presents current and past projects that help to cultivate a more sustainable ethos and strengthen community. Hear from Restored Spaces founder Shari Hersh and artists who work at the intersection of art and design and the environment, including Stacy Levy and Kaitlin Kylie Pomerantz.

March 30 Mural Preservation and Restoration The process of keeping murals looking their best is not an easy one. Meet the artists who undertake this task for a presentation of the before and after effects of restoring our city’s artistic treasures and a demonstration of their materials.

Celebrating the life and legacy of Octavius Catto

Last week, the Philadelphia Freedom Festival, had a press conference announcing their seven-month project celebrating the life and legacy of 19th-century African-American civil rights pioneer, Octavius V. Catto, the subject of Daniel Biddle and Murray Dubin’s Tasting Freedom.

Of particular note is the April 30th event, Let Freedom Ring, will showcase Tasting Freedom authors Daniel Biddle and Murray Dubin.

Tasting Freedom_AD(12-16-09) finalLet Freedom Ring Scholarly Panel Discussion

April 30, 2014 | 4:00PM–6:00PM

Temple University, Mitten Hall

Live broadcast by 900AM-WURD, this engaging discussion joins a diverse set of voices from Philadelphia’s academic and activist communities to reflect on the life and impact of Octavius V. Catto. Performance by Cheyney University Concert Choir to follow.

This event is in partnership with the Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection and 900AM-WURD.

Other events listed below in chronological order

Let Freedom Ring Scholarly Panel Discussion

April 30, 2014 | 4:00PM–6:00PM

Temple University, Mitten Hall

Live broadcast by 900AM-WURD, this engaging discussion joins a diverse set of voices from Philadelphia’s academic and activist communities to reflect on the life and impact of Octavius V. Catto. Performance by Cheyney University Concert Choir to follow.

This event is in partnership with the Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection and 900AM-WURD.

Catto PressConf 

PHOTO: Authors Murray Dubin and Daniel Biddle (far left) at the Press conference

Other events are posted below in chronological order

Octavius Catto Story: A Philadelphia Freedom Fighter
Connecting Arts-N-Schools

February–April 2014

These workshop/performances will be presented in four participating Philadelphia schools and integrate with the history, literature, and arts curriculum.

Workshops open to participating schools only.

Let Freedom Sing
Community Jubilee

February 22, 2014 | 2:00PM–4:00PM

Mother Bethel A.M.E. Church

Invited ministers and their choirs will participate in a church meeting revival offering a praise and worship opportunity for the entire community.

The program will consist of Negro Spirituals, sacred music born out of the African Diaspora experience, praise dancers, and special words from several special guest ministers.

Refreshments will be served after the event during a Meet & Greet with the ministers. Tours of the Richard Allen Museum will also be available.

Taste of Freedom
Catto Awards Luncheon

March 28, 2014 | 11:30AM–2:00PM

Union League of Philadelphia, Lincoln Hall

The Mann is honored to pay tribute, during Women’s History Month, to African American women who have made distinguished contributions to their professions and communities.

Freedom of Composition
Master Class

April 18, 2014 | 2:00PM–4:00PM

Curtis Institute of Music, Lenfest Hall

Music students from Philadelphia universities will be invited participants in this Master Class/Meet the Artist session facilitated by Uri Caine, the commissioned composer of the finale main stage performance.

Master Class open to participating schools only. This event is in partnership with the Curtis Institute of Music.

Let Freedom Speak — Voices of Our Children
Catto Youth Freedom Project

May 16, 2014 | 10:00AM–12:00PM

Church of the Advocate

400 Philadelphia students are invited to attend an engaging, celebratory program featuring local young spoken word artists and city-wide choirs.

This event is in partnership with Art Sanctuary’s Celebration of Black Writing and is open to participating schools only.

Freedom Rap Session
Youth Freedom Panel Discussion

June 7, 2014 | 10:00AM – 12:00PM

Crescendo Restaurant & Lounge at the Mann

Invited local hip-hop artists and scholars who have experienced & studied racism in Philadelphia will discuss how the power of music is reflected in their words. Also featuring performances by emerging young spoken word artists.

This event is in partnership with Art Sanctuary.

Sing Freedom Sing!!!
Festival Finale Concert

July 19, 2014 | 8:00PM

The Mann’s Main Stage

Premiere performance of a commissioned work by composer Uri Caine featuring The Philadelphia Orchestra, a 300-voice choir, headline soloists, and praise dancers.

Special Guest Artist Dr. Marvin Sapp

A pre-concert event on PECO Plaza will feature the “Trailblazers to Freedom Digital Interactive Media Traveling Trunk.”

Pre-concert event presented in partnership with the African American Museum in Philadelphia.

Freedom Youth Jamboree
Young People’s Concert Series

July 28, 2014 | 11:00AM

The Mann’s Main Stage

A free children’s concert featuring “Catto at the Bat,” an original “baseball en pointe” piece by The Rock School for Dance Education, and Negro Spirituals performed by the Philadelphia Boys Choir.

Four Greenfield Performance Treasures Workshops to follow featuring the Philadelphia Boys Choir.

YPCS is free and open to the public.

Riot Grrrl’s Second Act

In this blog entry, Kate Eichhorn, author of The Archival Turn in Feminism: Outrage in Order, writes about the renewed interest in Riot Grrrl music, celebrities, and histories over the past year and asks: Is it about more than nostalgia?

Carrie Brownstein, riot grrrl musician turned sketch comedian (most recently, of Portlandia fame), frequently finds herself fielding interviewer’s questions about a Sleater Kinney reunion. Over the years, Brownstein has carefully evaded the question, neither ruling it out nor confirming rumors of her former band—arguably the most successful act to come out of the West Coast Riot Grrrl music scene in the 1990s—reuniting. Brownstein’s evasion of the reunion question is not surprising. In the temporally-sensitive world of popular music, any band that “comes back” is a band who has already gone away.

Whether or not Brownstein and her former bandmates reunite in 2014, the timing couldn’t be better. Over the past twelve months, Riot Grrrl music, celebrities and histories have received a lot of airplay, screen time and ink. In March, filmmaker Sini Anderson released The Punk Singer, a biopic about Kathleen Hanna featuring new and archival footage of Hanna and her former bandmates, friends and allies. A few months later, Lisa Darms, Senior Archivist at NYU’s Fales Library & Special Collections, published The Riot Grrrl Collection. A museum-catalog-style volume focused on NYU’s Riot Grrrl Collection, the book offers fans and researchers a glimpse into some of the ‘zines, posters and printed ephemera that helped to define the Riot Grrrl movement. Then, in September, Hanna released Run Fast with her new band sporting an old name, The Julie Ruin (the band’s name references one of Hanna’s earlier solo projects).

Eichorn.inddBut why Riot Grrrl again and why now? Is it, as some critics have suggested, simply about nostalgia?

Nostalgia has a bad reputation. Nostalgia is apparently not only a clever attempt to sell back to us the cultural detritus of past eras but a desire for something that never existed. And as it turns out, nostalgia is equally reviled by cultural critics (see Fredric Jameson for starters) and musicians. On the sixth track of Sleater Kinney’s final album, The Woods (released in 2005), the band belts out the following cynical lyrics,

You come around looking 1984
You’re such a bore, 1984
Nostalgia, you’re using it like a whore
It’s better than before

So has Riot Grrrl simply come around again looking, in this case, 1994?

When recently asked if she ever feels nostalgic for the 1990s, Brownstein explained, “Nostalgia is a very tricky thing. I always find that nostalgia is sort of like memory without the pain. And that’s why it feels so good to kind of bask in that, and I think it can be deceptively comforting” (Stereogum, January 6, 2014). When asked a similar question in a interview about her new album, however, Hanna was somewhat more optimistic: “If nostalgia is how people find things, that’s fine… And if people want to think it was an awesome time and they want to thank me and want to say how great I am, I’ll take it because there weren’t a lot of people thanking me and telling me how great I am at the time in a public forum” (Self-titled, December 2, 2013). What Brownstein’s and Hanna’s comments bring into relief is the complex ways in which nostalgia operates, especially when both music and politics are on the table.

When Riot Grrrl emerged in the early 1990s, many bands were still peddling their own audio cassettes off the end of the stage. The sound and style was raw and often inflected by a DIY philosophy. By the time Sleater Kinney released their final album in 2005, however, the sound and style of the bands associated with the Riot Grrrl scene had changed drastically, and many of the movement’s musicians were gaining increased recognition from mainstream music critics. If there is a demand for at least some of these musicians and bands to get back in stage, it is not necessarily driven by nostalgia for what Riot Grrrl was but rather for the music scene it eventually became.

Similarly, while interest in Anderson’s biopic or the Riot Grrrl Collection may be at least partially driven by nostalgia, there is no reason to conclude that enthusiasm for these projects is purely about a longing for another place and time. Sifting through files in the Riot Grrrl Collection, one quickly realizes that riot grrrls were not only creating a new sound and style, they were actively mining second wave feminist archives for inspiration, ideas, tactics and imagery. From clip art taken directly out of 1970s radical feminist newspapers and newsletters to song lyrics pilfered from earlier women-fronted bands, Riot Grrrl was also a savvy, sometimes ironic but respectful recycling and rethinking of past forms of feminist activism and women’s cultural production.

For all these reasons, as fans, both old and new, line up to watch The Punk Singer and dream up excuses to visit the Riot Grrrl Collection, rather than assume they are merely nostalgic for something they miss—or simply missed–perhaps we should hold open the possibility of that Riot Grrrl’s “second act” will serve as a stage for the next feminist cultural revolution.

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