Tuesday, September 4, 2012

African American Out Movements of San Francisco

Thursday, September 13, 2012, 5:00 pm

African American Out Movements of San Francisco

Panel Discussion at the California Historical Society
Free event at the California Historical Society, 678 Mission Street, San Francisco

RSVP at zacchochs.eventbrite.com.

From September 13-16, 2012, Zaccho Dance Theatre will perform Sailing Away: San Francisco’s 1858 Black Exodus. Sailing Away is a site-specific performance inspired by San Francisco’s early African American settlers. Created by Choreographer and Director Joanna Haigood, Sailing Away features eight prominent African Americans who lived and worked near Market Street during the mid-nineteenth century and evokes their participation in the mass exodus of African Americans from California in 1858.  Free performances occur at 12pm, 1:30pm, and 3pm traveling along Market Street beginning at the Market & Powell Street Cable Car station.

On opening day, a panel discussion and reception will be held in conjunction with scholars, historians, and local community leaders who will discuss San Francisco’s African American out migration then and now at 5pm at the California Historical Society. This panel discussion is co-presented by Zaccho Dance Theatre, the Museum of African Diaspora and the California Historical Society.

Panelist Biographies
As Co-Founder (1980) and Artistic Director of Zaccho Dance Theatre, Joanna Haigood's creative work focuses on making dances that use natural, architectural and cultural environments as points of departure for movement exploration and narrative. From harnessing the menacing energy of a 10-ton crane tofocusing on the delicacy of a butterfly’s nesting ground, her dances become extensions of their surroundings with choreography that interprets the site’s physical, cultural, and historical identities. Recent projects include The Shifting Cornerstone (2008) commissioned by Dancers’ Group and performed on the 3rd & Mission in collaboration with Yerba Buena Center; performance installation The Monkey and The Devil (2008) in collaboration with visual artist Charles Trapolin; Departure and Arrival (2007), commissioned by the SF International Arts Festival and performed at the SF International Airport; a remounting of Invisible Wings (first premiered in 1998 at SF’s Fort Point and based on the Underground Railroad) presented as the culminating event of the 75th anniversary season at Jacob’s Pillow; Breaking Ground (2005) a dance charette conceived and curated by Haigood, presented by Dancing in the Streets NYC; Ghost Architecture (2004) a meditative reflection on the controversial history of SF’s downtown redevelopment project at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts; A View From Here (2002) inspired by the paintings of Marc Chagall and presented at SF’s Theater Art and Picture conceived to be produced in three urban settings in celebration of communities,that while perceived as troubled, reveal unexpected and hopeful signs of renewal, Picture Powderhorn presented by the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis 2000 and Picture Redhook presented by Dancing in the Streets Brooklyn, NY 2002.
Joanna Haigood's work has been commissioned by leading arts presenters both nationally and internationally. Among them are the National Black Arts Festival, Festival d'Avignon and Festival d'Arles in France, the Exploratorium, Capp Street Project, Dancing in the Streets, the Walker Art Center, Jacob's Pillow, the San Francisco Art Commission, Kaatsbaan International Dance Center, and the McColl Center for Visual Art. Her choreography has also been commissioned by Alonzo King's Lines Contemporary Ballet, Robert Moses' KIN, and Axis Dance Company and is in the repertory of the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago. Ms. Haigood was honored in 2007 as recipient of the United States Artists Fellowship to further her work.
Gregory Hodge (panel moderator) is a youth development policy advocate and member of the Oakland Unified School District Board of Education from 2000-2008. Gregory Hodge also serves as an organizational development and community building consultant. He works with a range of groups from small nonprofitsand foundations to public agencies, particularly school districts. He was previously the Chief Executive Officer for California Tomorrow, an Oakland-based organization dedicated to building a strong multiracial and multicultural society. He also previously served as the Executive Director of Safe Passages, the Oakland Child Health and Safety Initiative. Prior to Safe Passages, Mr. Hodge was the Executive Director of the Urban Strategies Council, where he served as the director of the youth development initiative, managed the Freedom Schools program, and worked as the regional representative of the Black Community Crusade for Children, an effort coordinated nationally by the Children's Defense Fund.
Greg volunteered as the Master of Ceremonies of Bay Area Youth Arts’ annual Kwanzaa and Harvest Celebration for many years. His longtime support of Oakland’s esteemed Malonga Casquelourd Centerfor the Arts and of cultural arts, in general, as integral to positive community development is widely appreciated. Mr. Hodge continues to work as an attorney in private practice handling a variety of civillitigation matters. His involvements include member of the national Annenberg School District Reform Task Force. He holds a bachelor of arts degree from Northwestern University and a law degree from Golden Gate University, San Francisco, California. He is the father of four children.
Jan Batiste Adkins (panelist), an educator and lecturer, spent the last five years researching and documenting the history of San Francisco’s African American pioneers. Her master’s thesis from San Jose State University documented the history of the African American community as reflected in black newspapers of the 1850s through the 1890s. Her new book (January 2012) African Americans in San Francisco is an expansion of that project, for which she has consulted area archives, museums, and libraries, including the California Historical Society, the San Francisco African American Historical Society, the African American Museum and Library at Oakland, San Francisco Public Library History Center, California State Public Library, church and organization archives, and family albums. She has traveled to Canada and retraced the lives and destinations of many of San Francisco’s 1858 Canada-bound voyagers. In her book, she managed to weave a photographic tapestry of the amazing stories and history that began during the early years of the Gold Rush and continue into the present era.
Beginning in the 1840s, her book chronicles black men and women who heard the call to go west, migrating to California in search of gold, independence, freedom, and land to call their own. By the mid-1850s, a lively African American community had taken root in San Francisco. Churches and businesses were established, schools were built, newspapers were published, and aid societies were formed. For the next century, the history of San Francisco’s African American community mirrored the nation’s slow progress toward integration with triumphs and setbacks depicted in images of schools, churches, protest movements, business successes, and political struggles. Ms. Adkins book has been adopted by Bayview Superintendent Zone K-12 schools through San Francisco Unified School District.
Performer/presenter Cheryl Susheel Bibbs (panelist), Ph.D. who recently retired after 25 years teachingat UC Berkeley, is also a former EMMY-award winning WGBH-TV executive producer. Ms. Bibbs’ dramatic one-woman shows (chautauquas) on Mary Ellen Pleasant (depicted in Sailing Away) are part of the National Park Service Underground Railroad Network-to-Freedom Program that is acclaimed in the US and Canada. Susheel's dramatic one-woman chautauquas on Pleasant, which are part of the National Park Service Underground Railroad Network-to-Freedom Program, have been acclaimed in the US and Canada. Theresearch collection on which these works are based has been certified by the California Council for the Humanities.

Dr. Bibbs' award-winning book on Pleasant and Marie LaVeaux (Heritage of Power) and her documentary films on Pleasant -- The Legacy of Mary Pleasant and Meet Mary Pleasant, have won 6 broadcast and film-festival awards: The shorts -- Best Documentary Peace Reel Medallion at the Berkeley Film Festival and a Silver Telly (Northern Calfornia's premiere TV broadcast) Award, and the PBS documentary -- Best Historical Documentary and Best Director of a Documentary (for Bibbs) from the New York International Independent Film Festival and, most recently, The Gold Kahuna Award for Filmmaking Excellence from the Honolulu Film Festival. Dr. Bibbs' three-DVD archive on Pleasant, which demonstrates the research background forher chautauquas, is housed at the African American Museum and Library at Oakland, CA and at the San Francisco Public Library; her films on DVD are available there, at the Bancroft Library at UC Berkeley, on www.mepleasant.com and on Amazon.com.

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