I am no stranger to slavery. I literally stumbled into it while doing genealogy research in the early 1980's, finding a matriarch who showed up in the 1870 census, which listed her as 61 years old and having been born in Africa.
Much meandering later, and with some hard-learned lessons – many of which I did not want to learn – I decided to embrace what I considered a healthier attitude about slavery, changing my name, clothes, language, etc.
This commentary, however, is not about covering the finer aspects of my journey. I share that opening simply as a reference point for the attitude that I took with me to New Orleans for the Red-Carpet premiere there earlier this month of "12 Years A Slave." The movie debuts in Memphis Friday (Nov. 1) after an advance screening Wednesday at the Malco Majestic.
Revered gospel recording artist Paul Porter stepped out of a rental car in front of Willie Mitchell's Royal Studios and exclaimed, "Wow! Can you believe this? Do you know where we are?"
The exclamation and questions were directed to his traveling mates, publicist Jason Hardy and new label executive Lonnie Deadwyler. Porter – in Memphis to attend the "Help Is On The Way" Family Membership and Showcase picnic (Oct. 26th) hosted by the non-profit For The People By The People at Audubon Park – added amplification.
"Man, this was one of my childhood dreams to cut here! This is soul music, baby!"
WHAT'S HAPPENING MYRON: I was on the air this past Sunday deciding on an entertainment news story to talk about when I stumbled across an article I couldn't believe I was reading. The caption read, "Chris Brown Arrested for Assault." I'm thinking to myself, "really?"
As I read the story, I couldn't believe the details of what led to his arrest.
Brown and his bodyguard, Christopher Hollosy, had been arrested and released without bail early Sunday morning following an altercation with another man outside the W Hotel in Washington D.C. The man was treated at the hospital and released.
Most people hold the Ivy League in high esteem as an exclusive oasis of intellectual thinking where one can acquire an excellent education. What they might not know is that its long-revered universities were also once intimately involved in slavery, depending on that evil institution for everything from funding to free labor.
Furthermore, places like Princeton served as a proving ground for the sons of plantation owners being trained in classes on slave management that:
"For Sullenness, Obstinancy, or Idleness... Take a Negro, strip him, tie him fast to a post; take then a sharp Curry-Comb, & curry him severely til he is well scrap'd; & call a boy with some dry Hay, and make the Boy rub him down for several Minutes, then salt him & unlose him."
Four-time Grammy winner India Arie returned to Memphis and the Orpheum Theatre on Sunday night, treating fans to old favorites and new vibes from her latest album "SongVersation."
No stranger to Memphis, Arie has graced Bluff-City stages previously in her decade-long career. I've had the pleasure of working her shows and the consistency of satisfaction again was on display.
The "Soulbird Presents: A SongVersation with India.Arie" tour kicked off Sept. 21st in Seattle! Fresh off the Memphis stop, Arie was off on a string of back-to-back-to-back-to-back shows that will roll her through Durham, N.C., Washington, D.C., Northampton, Mass., New York City and Westbury, N.Y.
When word gets out that Leslie King-Hammond is going to be in a city and is going to speak, lovers of art usually show up in ample numbers. They know that in the world of art history experts, she is a curator who knows her stuff.
King-Hammond, whose many accomplishments include having taught art history for 35 years at the Maryland Institute College of Art, was center stage over the weekend as the Dixon Gallery and Gardens opened its Winegardner Auditorium doors to dozens who came to see and hear her lectured on African Americans and Bible imagery.
From now through Jan. 5, the Dixon is home to the exhibit Ashe to Amen – African Americans and Biblical Imagery. It features the wealth and breadth of African-American artists' interpretations of Biblical stories and traditions in historic and contemporary art.