Sekou Sundiata, 1948-2007

I was very sorry to read in The New York Times that Sekou Sundiata has died. I once had the privilege to speak on a panel with him and have heard some of his performances. (Visit Salon for some sample audio.) Sundiata was a poet, performance artist, and organizer of community performances. His “the 51st (dream) state” is a remarkable portrait of the US after 9/11, full of hope and openness. He was a serious critic of White racism and he had an African aesthetic. Born in Harlem as Robert Franklin Feaster, he took an African name. But “the 51st (dream) state” is intensely patriotic about the USA. We all have complex and overlapping identities. Sundiata had the talent and the integrity to explore his own identities with eloquence and an open mind; and he was brilliant at helping other people to do the same.

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