Our upcoming episode of SOTRU is set in the complicated, and ever-evolving borough of Brooklyn, New York. In the show, we explore housing, development, and the inevitable impact it has on community. In my research, I connected with Michael Premo. He and his creative partner, Rachel Falcone are “oral history artists.” They met while working as facilitators with Story Corps, and have since created an illuminating, expansive, and “ongoing, multi-platform, documentary portrait of the struggle for home,” called Housing is a Human Right.
Archive for February, 2010
From the moment I heard the music and poetry of Blair, I was in love with it and believed in it. He weaves spoken word poetry, with folk rock, trip-hop and punk. On his MySpace page, he writes, “My dad looked like Chuck Berry, played like Hank Williams. My mom cleaned white folk’s houses. She raised five children. On her own. I inherited all sorts of ghosts from both of them. Sometimes I can fly.” (more…)
Five years in the making and the winner of more than 20 awards in the U.S. and abroad, Brother Outsider is a feature-length documentary portrait of Bayard Rustin. Described as “potent and persuasive” (Los Angeles Times), “beautifully crafted” (Boston Globe), “complex and nuanced” (Chicago Reader), and “poignant” (TIME), the film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and was broadcast nationally on PBS; it is currently airing on Logo/MTV. Filmmakers Nancy Kates and Bennett Singer shared the following reflections with State of the Re:Union: (more…)
Graffiti and murals have become so integrated into the fabric of so many of our cities, that I often forget to stop to look at them. In Brooklyn, as well as dozens of other places around the country, a specific type of mural exists among the cryptic tags, and colorful cartoon-esque characters. Often comprised of a simple portrait, along with a name, birth and death year, and sometimes a message, memorial murals began to sprout up all over NYC in the 90s. Today, it might be safe to say that there’s at least one memorial mural in every neighborhood in the city.
Like most, I had never heard of Bayard Rustin until Al told me that we were doing an entire episode about him. I think in these infancy stages we were all still referring to him as Bay-erd. Anyway, like most people do now, I Googled him and stumbled upon his Wikipedia page (can you imagine that sentence 5 years ago?). It didn’t take long for my personal political proclivities to feel incited about the prospect of this hour-long special. I could hear it in my head, “This is State of the Re:Union and our show today is about a gay communist turned socialist.” Where do you go from there? (more…)
The year is 1967. Bayard Rustin, only a few years off of the triumph of organizing the 1963 March on Washington, is standing before a crowd of people. He’s laying out a plan to erase poverty from American cities and towns. It’s not just a pie-in-the-sky spouting of rhetoric, but an actual, tangible plan. He’s telling the U.S. government: do this, this and this—and maybe we can create a society in which everyone has jobs, health care, food on the table and a roof over their heads. (more…)