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Suddenly, Interrupting All This Despairing News…

in Culture by

Part 1

September 22, 2016

Today
The front page of The New York Times
Is consumed

–by the war on Syria (“White House Considers Arming Kurds in Syria“)

–by the Clinton-Trump battle (“Trump Backs Stop-and-Frisk Across the U.S.” and “Clinton Views The Disabled As Key Allies”)

And

–by new shootings of African Americans in the Midwest (“Police Shooting Fills Charlotte with Foreboding: Officers Find a Gun—Family Says Victim Was Unarmed”)

Suddenly,
Interrupting all this despairing news, I find in The Times a Special Section in blue
and black entitled “I, Too, Sing America.”

This section is about the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington D.C. that is to open on September 24:

I read Holland Cotter’s review of the exhibition and a discussion of the museum.
His essay is entitled:
Here At Last. A century in the making, a museum that uplifts and upsets

He describes David Adjaye’s design of the museum as “rising in three low, inverted pyramid-tiers,” and explains that it is the last undeveloped museum site on the National Mall.

(On the last page of this Special Section is a reprint of Langston Hughes 1926 poem: “I, TOO.” The poem is engraved on the wall of this new African American museum.)

Part 2

September 24, 2016

In today’s issue of The New York Times
I study
Henry Louis Gates’ essay,
Proving Black History Matters”,
Which ends with a long quote from James Baldwin.

I stare out of the café’s window transfixed by Baldwin’s words:

“History is not merely something to be read. And it does not refer merely, or even principally, to the past. On the contrary, the great force of history comes from the fact that we carry it within us, are unconsciously controlled by it in many ways, and history is literally in the present in all that we do.” 


Moira Roth is an art historian, writer and playwright with a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley. Since 1985 she has taught at Mills College. She has published extensively including Difference/Indifference: Musings on Postmodernism, Marcel Duchamp and John CageCurrently she is at work on her second volume, Traveling Companions/ Fractured Worlds. This poem is no. 12 from her ongoing News from the Café series.

 

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