Of Ebony Emberz: Vignettes of the Harlem Renaissance


By Sade Smith, News Editor

409 Edgecombe Ave, Harlem, NY. 1935. Tables set with red tablecloth for a memorial dinner party to honor the lives lost of Wallace Thurman and Rudolf Fisher. The host? Aaron Douglas, portrayed by Core Ensemble actor Dracyn Blount. The guests? Claude McKay, Countee Cullen and Langston Hughes, also portrayed by Blount.

The Core Ensemble is a dynamic group of musicians and actors who celebrate the lives and legacies of culturals shared a closeness in which they accepted each other’s Blackness as a gift and a part of their successes towards the Harlem Renaissance.

At the same time, giving thanks to other artists of the time such as Mary McLeod Bethune. Riley commented, “They also do a women’s version with Zora Neale Hurston, and I would love to bring that around for next year.”

Donning a long fur neckline trench coat, “Countee Cullen” awaited a taxi to attend the memorial dinner. Shouting, “I am a poet who happens to be A Negro!” he angrily recalled the criticisms he received of his classic poetic style, claiming he wanted to be “a white poet.”

The poetic, musical and theatrical mash up made the raw nature of the Harlem Renaissance come alive and induced the audience to understand the distress of being a Black artist at a time when Black people were not yet recognized as true artists.

Janier Ward, junior Marketing major said, “He highlighted the hardships as well as the splendor of being Black. The most memorable part for me was his mentioning of the diaspora and how every element of the Black culture is mocked and then they try to replicate it.”

The mystical sounds of the xylophone created a misty air in which Blount took the stage as Langston Hughes reflecting on death and its toll on the affected people. “An ember needs smolders to regain its fire.”

Dean of College of Visual and Performing Arts David Klamen spoke on the significance of having this performance on campus. “It creates an opportunity for people to be exposed to cultural diversity and offers time for people to get behind each other in this difficult time.”

Photo Courtesy: Sade Smith


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