sunday august 2 james arthur baldwin celebrated his 85th spiritual earth day. earth day is a term i learned from (one of my mentors) nana imhotep gary byrd. he calls birthdays earth days bcuz all of god's kids are born once on different days yet on the same planet. anyhoo. the faison firehouse theater in harlem offered a riveting tribute to the man who inspired me, as he did so many others around the universe, to write. sitting in the theater for my first time on this historical occasion i felt in awe, deeply humbled & very excited to be in the presence of such greatness.
in the house was tony award winning choreographer & host george faison, the legendary activist/playwright/poet amiri baraka, author/poet/professor sonia sanchez, author quincy troupe, historian/writer herb boyd, vogue magazine's editor-at-large andre leon talley, howard university english department chairwoman eleanor traylor, musician/singer genovis albright, along with baldwin's sister-in-law helen baldwin, nephew trevor baldwin, as well as one of his proteges, alexa birdsong.
the ominous stage was adrift with african masks, kente cloth & other loving remnants of the motherland. you could feel the spirit of james baldwin in the room. i know i did. faison encouraged folks to get drinks (like jimmy) b4 the show started. baldwin was known for his all nite cocktail parties in the south of france where miles davis, bobby short, simone signoret or nina simone would stop through. i stopped drinking over 14 years ago & chuckled with the memory of a perfect excuse to have just one drink.
each special guest offered a wondrous tribute to baldwin - devoted activist, gifted writer, incredible humanitarian, the oldest of nine kids, a man baraka referred to during his eulogy at st john's cathedral of the divine as "god's revolutionary black mouth." interspersed between guests were snippets of the poignant documentary, the price of the ticket. the theater was completely packed as late arriving folks stood proudly in the back to witness a celebration of a harlem literary genius. what a blessing!
- mark j. tuggle
- harlem, usa
- same-gender-loving contemporary descendant of enslaved africans. community activist, feminist, health educator, independent filmmaker, mentor, playwright, poet & spiritual being. featured at, in & on africana.com, afrikan poetry theatre, angel herald, bejata dot com, bet tonight with tavis smiley, blacklight online, black noir, brooklyn moon cafe, gmhc's barbershop, klmo-fm, lgbt community services center, longmoor productions, nuyorican poets cafe, our corner, poz, pulse, rolling out new york, rush arts gallery, saint veronica's church, schomburg center for research in black culture, sexplorations, the citizen, the new york times, the soundz bar, the trenton times, the village voice, upn news, uzuri, venus, vibe, wbai-fm, wnyc-fm & wqht-fm. volunteered with adodi, bailey house, inc., black men's xchange-new york, colorofchange.org, drug policy alliance, east harlem tutorial program, imagenation film & music festival, presente.org, save darfur coalition, the enough project, the osborne association, the sledge group & your black world. worked on films with maurice jamal & heather murphy. writing student of phil bertelsen & ed bullins. firstname.lastname@example.org.