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The Middle Passage: A Series of Articles from the Boston African American National Historical Site

In recent years, storytelling has found new forms of expression in music videos and in the many interactive platforms of the Internet. At these online sites the doors are open to shared stories and experiences. A private incident or local performance can become a touchstone for millions. Video by Charlie Weber.

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Notable also is the way in which storytelling has evolved within the African American deaf community. Their signs, gestures, and body language represent art as well as communication. One need only experience the signer who performs with Sweet Honey in the Rock to recognize this distinctive mode of black expression. Like other black communities, deaf African Americans were segregated for decades from the larger deaf population and evolved independently. As a result, black sign-language users developed their own distinctive gestures, and a general preference for using more two-handed signs than is common amongst the broader group.

Young poets during the second half of the twentieth century were inspired and nourished by earlier generations of black poets, including such renowned figures as Phillis Wheatley, Paul Laurence Dunbar, James Weldon Johnson, and Langston Hughes. But these later artists felt the need for a new genre of poetry that would suit their activist approach to the world. They developed a more assertive, confrontational style of writing and delivery that allowed figures such as Amiri Baraka, Nikki Giovanni, Haki Madhubuti, E.

Through performers such as Gil Scott-Heron and the Last Poets, this new black poetry influenced early street rap poetry and rap music, which in turn nurtured the hip-hop and spoken word movements among a younger wave of artists.

Voices from the African-American experience : edited by Fran Hopenwasser and Carl Pedersen

Building on the past, the new black poetry functions on a sacred-secular continuum. It favors a pronounced rhythmic pattern and uses the Black idiom—including rap, call-and-response, and signification. Classified sometimes as poetry and sometimes as hip-hop, spoken word is a literary art form in which the lyrics or words are spoken, not sung.

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Spoken-word events are presented occasionally as performance poetry set against a musical background with a percussive beat. In African American spoken word, those artists whose backgrounds include more formal literary training and who generally are older and defined as poets are distinct from the younger, more contemporary practitioners who may come from an educated background or the subcultures of hip-hop, rap, or the street.

As a result, the realm of spoken word has seen an evolution of the form and an expanded range of practitioners across several generations.

Events sanctioned by Poetry Slam, Inc. Tanya Matthews, an active spoken-word artist based in Cincinnati, suggests that in such venues spoken word can be evaluated by the way in which the words are rhymed to a rhythm, by the back beat, by its musical accompaniment, and by whether it is an oral or written composition. And in the case of the s WPA recordings of former slaves, oral testimonies and personal narratives provide fertile material for cultural historians who seek not only the content of these testimonies, but also their manner of verbal expression.

Voices of the African American experience - Lionel C. Bascom - Google Книги

Exposure to such firsthand accounts can evoke personal memories and help others to recall their own favorite tales and stories. The National Museum of African American History and Culture and the Smithsonian Folklife Festival have demonstrated their commitment to documenting and preserving the oral expressions of a people whose voices were muzzled, who were denied the opportunity to read and to write, and whose speeches and oratory often did not survive. In the process, the museum moves closer to its goals of helping all Americans to learn more about African American history and culture, and to understand and appreciate how this history and culture provide a powerful lens for understanding what it truly means to be an American.

James Alexander Robinson was the curator for Giving Voice: He is a doctoral candidate in interdisciplinary black studies at the University of Iowa. Culture of, by, and for the People. The E-mail Address es you entered is are not in a valid format. Please re-enter recipient e-mail address es. You may send this item to up to five recipients. The name field is required.


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