This tree is Paul Robeson

Coming from a place where a little girl who thought she would be a dancer, or an actress, or a poet, not knowing that actors could be activists or that all art is political, became a teacher. Staged in a gallery like a choreopoem and an experiment in four parts in tribute to the legacy of Black art and aesthetics that move and shape–though molded by pain crafts joy like a river or a dance and a song, these thoughts are about a tree, planted in dirt that tells his/story. Classified and constructed, analyzed and named, this talk is about a tree.

Close your eyes and imagine the tallest tree in our forest

Our tree

This tree

This tree whose feet are planted firmly in dark rich soil like roots that find water deep below the surface

This tree whose body is like an aged and weathered trunk that has passed the test of time

This tree whose shoulders, broad and dense, carry arms like branches that move with the wind

This tree whose hands extend in service with cupped fingers to concentrate sound in spite of all the noise

This tree whose fruit is borne high, almost unreachable unless you are willing to ascend to experience the gift of its sweetness…

Can you see it?

This tree

That stands as the tallest tree in the forest…

Our forest

Of Black 

And Brown

And Red

And White

And Blue

Blue Black blues

Black and Blue blues

Bruised and blistered

Weathered and tried

Like Miles Davis, and Coltrane 

Sultry like Lena and 

Light like Hazel

Deep like voice

This tree is 

Paul Robeson.


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