On Jan. 21 at 6:30 p.m., a one-night-only performance of “Black Voices of the Harlem Renaissance” has been scheduled at the McAlester Public Library to mark Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Albert H. Bostick, of Oklahoma City, will bring his poetry, music and spoken word program, performed before a backdrop of Black visual art, to a free performance in the Whiteacre Room.
“Black Voices” features the works of Paul Laurence Dunbar, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Richard Wright, W.E.B. DuBois, James Weldon Johnson, Claude McKay, Countee Cullen, Billie Holiday, Paul Robeson, Bessie Smith, Fats Waller, Marcus Garvey, Sterling A. Brown and Duke Ellington.
“Through the use of poetry, narrative and song, the audience can catch the A Train and follow the development of African-Americans from ‘the lazy-laughing South,’ to the Great Migration, to the ‘dream-deferring North,” Bostick said.
“Laughter abounds as we meet characters through literature and hear their insight through humorous accounts and encounters as they struggle to find themselves. The audience can feel the angst of artists and activists as they fight the battle of equality and hear the beauty that grew out of the ugliness of racism.”
Bostick, listed on the Oklahoma Arts Council’s Artist-in-Residence and touring rosters for more than 20 years, is director of his own Renaissance Arts organization, Basically Bostick Projects, Inc., which creates performance opportunities for African-Americans in the Oklahoma City area.
An alumnus of Grambling State University, Bostick hails from New Orleans, where he worked with the Free Southern and Dashiki Project theaters.
He has also worked with the Pollard Theater in Guthrie, the American Theater Company in Tulsa, Oklahoma Shakespeare in the Park, the Oklahoma Children’s Theater and the Black Liberated Arts Center of Oklahoma City, where he served as artistic director for 15 years.
“Black Voices” is the kickoff program in a series of free monthly performances and educational programs in 2013 at McAlester Public Library. Other upcoming performances, all suitable for family audiences, include:
• Thursday, Feb. 21
Noted storyteller and drummer Jahruba Lambeth will return to McAlester for a special Black History Month program, featuring folktales from Africa, African drum demonstrations with audience involvement, and other African instruments used to play African songs.
“Black History Month is so special to me because I was involved in the first Oklahoma City sit-in demonstration with Freedom Fighter Mrs. Clara Luper,” Lambeth said.
“My audience will also hear what it was like during the first intense weeks of the sit-in demonstrations.”
• Thursday, March 14
Novelist and Red Oak native Rilla Askew will read from her newest novel “Kind of Kin” in a special program featuring a panel discussion on the issue of immigration law, with input from other local and area educators, clergy and community leaders.
The novel, already receiving national buzz, is Askew’s fourth. It tells the story of people who want to “do right and still do wrong, and people who do right in spite of themselves,” as they try to help, protect and provide for those they love most, the publisher said. The plot centers on a Draconian new state law that threatens an ordinary American family and throws a close-knit community into turmoil.
The novel has received praise from critics and writers nationwide, including Ben Fountain, author of the National Book Award-nominated “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk.” It is set in the fictional town of Cedar, Oklahoma, in Latimer County, which bears a passing resemblance to Askew’s native Red Oak.
• Thursday, April 25
Western Humorist “Captain” Jack Parker will present his rollicking program “An Okie Education,” which features a lesson in Sooner State diction, word usage and definitions. Captain Jack’s family-friendly program has its own unique style, as the performer addresses a variety of topics blending humor, history, heritage and pride in just the right proportions. Subjects include small town etiquette, pool hall protocol, garage sale manners, country road waving and even some simple lessons in “farm talk” translation.
• Thursday, May 9
Dr. Douglas Watson, known nationwide for his “An Evening with Will Rogers” presentation, will bring his tribute to the Oklahoma legend here for one night. In 2006, Oklahoma’s Will Rogers Memorial Commission chose Watson to portray “Will Rogers in the Classrooms” at colleges and schools. He has also played Will Rogers in Chautauqua settings nationwide and appeared as the cowboy humorist on C-Span and in other media.
“Professor Watson is a leading Will Rogers scholar and a powerful actor who brings alive the wit, wisdom and splendid role model qualities of the world’s greatest cowboy philosopher,” said Michelle Lefebvre-Carter, director of the Will Rogers Commission.
Other special, free-to-the-public programs will continue throughout the Summer Reading season, with details to be announced later this year.
For more information on these or any other library programs, visit the website at www.oklibrary.net or call 918-426-0930.