Medgar Evers College’s Center For Black Literature and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture Celebrate the Centennial of Writer and Poet Aimé Césaire

September 30, 2013 | Medgar Evers College

Talkback with Renowned Director Euzhan Palcy Highlights Césaire’s Work and Legacy to Follow Screening of “Aimé Césaire: A Voice for History”

BROOKLYNMedgar Evers College’s Center for Black Literature, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, and the Martinique Promotion Bureau will present an excerpt from the film Aimé Césaire: A Voice for History by renowned director Euzhan Palcy on Tuesday, October 8, 2013, from 6 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., at Medgar Evers College Campus in the Edison O. Jackson Auditorium  at 1638 Bedford Avenue. The screening, which is free and open to the public, is in celebration of the centennial of author, poet, and politician Aimé Césaire (1913–2008.)

Following the film, there will be a talkback with John W. Franklin, director of Partnerships and International Programs at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. Mr. Franklin, who studied Caribbean literature with Aimé Césaire in Martinique in the 1970s, will discuss the film as well as the life and work of Césaire and the significance of his legacy. He will be joined by Vivaldi Jean-Marie, assistant professor of philosophy at Medgar Evers College.

“It is an honor to have my film shown at the Medgar Evers College,” said film director Euzhan Palcy. “Of course, it was an immense pleasure to spend so much time with Aimé Césaire during the filming of this documentary. I am certain that Aimé Césaire admired Medgar Evers for his dedication and courage.”

Aimé Césaire was an influential Francophone Caribbean writer and one of the founders of the Negritude Movement, a literary and ideological movement developed by French-speaking Black intellectuals, writers, and politicians in France in the 1930s. Césaire, who died at the age of 94, is widely-hailed as a principal crusader for civil rights in the within the French West Indies and was an early proponent of Black pride. He dedicated his life to the struggle against colonialism and its racial stereotypes and the fight to bring equality to French overseas territories.

“Aimé Césaire’s poetry, theater, political writings, and political leadership inspired my exploration of the Black, French-speaking world. In his centennial year, it is important that we must share this treasure with new generations,” said Mr. Franklin.

About the Participants

John W. Franklin, senior manager in the Office of External Affairs at the Smithsonian’s 19th museum, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, has worked on African-American, African, and African Diaspora programs for the past 26 years at the Smithsonian. Initially, he served as researcher, French language interpreter, and presenter for the Smithsonian’s African Diaspora program of the 1976 Bicentennial Folklife Festival while living and teaching English in Dakar, Senegal. Franklin developed symposia and seminars for the Office of Interdisciplinary Studies from 1987 to 1992. At the Smithsonian’s Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, he curated Smithsonian Folklife Festival programs on the Bahamas (1994), Cape Verdean Culture (1995), Washington, D.C. (2000), and Mali (2003). Franklin served on the Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture from 1998 to 2008. He served on the boards of the Reginald Lewis Maryland Museum of African American History and Culture from 2000 to 2009 and the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies from 2005 to 2011. He edited My Life and an Era: the Autobiography of Buck Colbert Franklin with his father, John Hope Franklin.

Vivaldi Jean-Marie received his Ph.D. in philosophy from the New School for Social Research in New York City. He is assistant professor of philosophy at Medgar Evers College of the City University of New York.  Prof. Jean-Marie is the author of Fanon: Collective Ethics and Humanism (Peter Lang Publishing, 2007) and Kierkegaard: History and Eternal Happiness (University Press of America, 2008), and has published articles in Gnosis and The Western Journal of Black Studies. He is currently working on his third book about Haitian Voodoo and Rastafarianism in Jamaica. One of the central aspects of his research is the intersection and difference between the sociopolitical experience of people of the African Diaspora and the Western philosophical tradition. This academic year, Prof. Jean-Marie is also an adjunct assistant professor with the Institute for Research in African-American Studies at Columbia University.

About the Center for Black Literature at Medgar Evers College, CUNY

This year marks a milestone for the Center for Black Literature as it celebrates its tenth anniversary honoring the literature by writers of the African Diaspora. Founded in 2003, and spearheaded by Dr. Brenda M. Greene, the Center for Black Literature at Medgar Evers College was established to expand, broaden, and enrich the general public’s knowledge and aesthetic appreciation of the value of Black literature; to continue the tradition and legacy of the National Black Writers Conference; to serve as a voice, mecca, and resource for Black writers; and to study the literature of people from the African Diaspora. It is the only Center devoted to this in the country. For more information about The Center for Black Literature and CBL events and programs, please visit us online at www.centerforblackliterature.org.

About the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture

The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, a research unit of The New York Public Library, is generally recognized as one of the leading institutions of its kind in the world. For more than 85 years the Center has collected, preserved, and provided access to materials documenting black life, and promoted the study and interpretation of the history and culture of peoples of African descent. Educational and Cultural Programs at the Schomburg Center complement its research services and interpret its collections. Seminars, forums, workshops, staged readings, film screenings, performing arts programs, and special events are presented year-round. More information about Schomburg’s collections and programs can be found at www.schomburgcenter.org.

About the Martinique Promotion Bureau

The Martinique Promotion Bureau has been the proud sponsor of special events planned throughout 2013 to commemorate the life of Martinique’s famed poet and politician Aimé Césaire. One of its keystone events took place in Martinique, where the Toni Morrison Society placed a Bench by the Road in Fort-de-France in his honor; other events were held throughout the United States and in France. Cesaire’s homeland remains one of the most enchanting destinations in the world, and the Martinique Promotion Bureau, which is located in New York, is committed to sharing the specialness of Martinique with U.S. travelers. For more information, visit www.martinique.org.

About Medgar Evers College

Located in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, Medgar Evers College is a growing institution offering both Associate and Baccalaureate degrees.  The nearly 7,000-member student body is primarily comprised of those who are the first in their families to attend college.  A senior college within The City University of New York (CUNY) system, Medgar Evers College was established in 1970 with a mandate to meet the educational and social needs of the Central Brooklyn community.  With a commitment to students who desire a sound academic foundation as well as an opportunity for personal development, Medgar Evers College seeks to provide high-quality, professional, career-oriented undergraduate degree programs in the context of a liberal arts education.  For more information, visit www.mec.cuny.edu.

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Jamilah Fraser (718) 270-6978

Clarence Reynolds (718) 804-8881