Uptownflavor and Harlem Arts Alliance have partnered to provide you with a weekly syndicated column called, “HAA on the A with Souleo.” “On the A” provides an update of arts, culture, and entertainment around Harlem. Welcome aboard “The A with Souleo.”
For most working people, there has been at least one occasion when they’ve wanted to
pick up a marker, decorate a picket sign with a clever catchphrase and go lead a strike. Yet, instead of striking, most simply quit or bear the burden of an unfulfilling 9-5. Not everyone is A. Philip Randolph, but that’s why his accomplishments as a civil rights pioneer and American labor movement leader are inspiring.
Randolph’s story was presented in “The Good Fight,” as part of The National Black
Touring Circuit’s Black History Month Play Festival at the National Black Theatre. Try repeating the second half of that last line five times straight. But, I digress. The point I am getting to is that while Randolph’s story is powerful, it didn’t translate well to stage. Ralph McCain’s performance was solid, but he was hindered by a script that could have benefited greatly from offering more insight into the man behind the legend. Nevertheless, according to special guest Amiri Baraka, African-Americans need to honor Randolph’s legacy by working together to responsibly exercise economic power which is projected to increase to $1.1 trillion by 2015. “We talk about reparations but we already got billions in our fingers,” he says. “We can get reparations but use these billions to do something too. We don’t use our money collectively.”
Over at the Heath Gallery the theme of unity was present with the exhibition, “Crossing Lines,” featuring collaborations between artists, Gilbert Gandia and Michael Dailey, Jr. This was my first-time visiting the gallery and I was impressed with the layout and design, which belies the fact that the space is actually the parlor of a brownstone. While there, I discovered that the founders, Thomas and Saundra Heath, are transferring full responsibility of the gallery to their daughter, Kai Heath, as lead curator. This is a promising opportunity in the 20 year-old’s life and one that she plans to use to support rising artists. “I want to bring other young artists in who haven’t had a chance to have their work up in Chelsea; to have their work displayed and appreciated,” she says.
Ella Veres certainly has gratitude for East Harlem’s Savoy Bakery where her
exhibition, “Farewell, My Transylvania,” is on display. Veres’ vivid images highlight the beauty of her native land of Transylvania, Romania and also helps to counter the image of vampires that are often associated with the region. For Veres, choosing Harlem as a place to present her work made perfect sense because of its similarities to her former home. “I wanted to show here because East Harlem is family oriented with lots of activity like Transylvania, and the two are also very multicultural.”
Before I left, I noticed the family atmosphere that Savoy Bakery manager, Brian Ghaw, creates between himself and staff. There is a high-level of respect in the way that he treats his workers, which is all A. Philip Randolph was ever asking for through his labor advocacy work. Now, that’s how you avoid a strike!