Monday,  January 16

In the East Gallery

with On the Shoulders of Ancestors: The Art of Willis Bing Davis

Chanel Beebe, Maya McChristion, Aanisah Mubarak, Dominique Shelby, Latrice Young and Aaron "A J " Lucky

Chanel Beebe, Maya McChristion, Aanisah Mubarak, Dominique Shelby, Latrice Young and Aaron "A J " Lucky

Haraka Writers

The Purdue University Black Cultural Center Haraka Writers is an eclectic group of student writers committed to the literary expression of the African American experience through short stories, essays, and poetry recitals.  These modern day griots strive to preserve the concept of the African oral tradition.

The group gathers to hold collaborative workshops that foster creativity and bring diverse influences together. The ensemble is well respected in the literary world, and many of its members have been published in scholarly writings. Through essays, prose, poetry and short stories, the Haraka Writers strive to reinforce the essential bonds that give hope and strength to people.

Performed Spoken Word


Dr. MLK the Villain

Dominique Shelby : 01.16.17

Everything is global when you’re a villain
So powerful that opposition are then considered heroes
The villain is fearless, irrational, a force that must be stopped
But at what cost to the people?
Don’t let America full you
Martin Luther King Jr. was a villain
One of the best to ever walk the earth
My friend was appalled when his Caucasian counterpart asked him
“Was Martin Luther King really affective while alive?”
That questions bigger than miseducation in a segregated school
Deeper than simply disregarding black contributions
Because the last two words of that question were, “while alive?”
Oh..so he was better off dead?!
His death allowed them to use his quotes out of context
Now his words are used against his own people
Villains are neutralized once converted to heroes
(cough) Muhammad Ali, excuse me
The way I see it
The same people hating activists saying it’s all a scheme
Teach inclusiveness and claim that they fell in love with the dream speech
And they treat Martin Luther King like a god cause he’s dead
If he was here they’d call him racial slurs and plot with the feds
If he was here today they’d probably put a price on his head
Times change but no gains, it’s de facto instead
Forcing silence on inspiring voices will splat red
…We lost another revolutionary, lead to the head

Aanisah Mubarak : 01.16.17

Inspired by this quote:   “We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy.”
—from "I Have A Dream" speech in Washington, D.C., August 28, 1963

"I have a dream"
That has not yet been fulfilled
The prison industrial complex= slavery 2.0

Forget Jim Crow, our segregated neighborhoods, schools and workplaces don't need formal laws to uphold them
In the sixties, we made a long way in the stride to equal rights
But we can't stop now, cuz not over is our plight
The absurd idea that racism no longer exists
Is supported by people who like to claim Dr. King changed everything for us negroes
While the fact that he was ASSASSINATED before finishing his work conveniently slips their minds
Kinda like how Freddie Gray "slipped" and severed his spine
We clearly got work to do
Starting with removing our role models from the pedestal
Humanize them
Cuz they were just normal people like you and me
Who happened to have a dream
And the willingness to put in the work required to fulfill it
That's it
Every one of us is more than capable of becoming the next great leader, and proponent of civil rights
And be even greater than Dr. King and those before us
We stand on their shoulders
Even as this country was built on all of our backs
So don't just sit there and reminisce on the past and lament the present
Learn from our predecessors' mistakes
And go get our freedom

'Let Freedom Ring'

Aaron “AJ” Lucky : 01.16.17

“And I say to you today my friends, let freedom ring. From the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire,
let freedom ring. From the mighty mountains of New York, let freedom ring…
Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!
Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!
But not only there; let freedom ring from the Stone Mountain of Georgia!
Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain in Tennessee!
Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill in Mississippi.
From every mountainside, let freedom ring.”
"Let Freedom Ring"
Many people believe that heroes are fictional characters. That they’re these bigger than life people who wear capes. When in actuality they are ordinary human beings who do extraordinary acts. In saying so, I’d like to think this Freedom that MLK speaks of exists in different forms. These different forms of freedom have manifested themselves through different sheroes and heroes. For instance:
1.  When Harriet Tubman crossed the lines of what she perceived as her freedom she said she looked at her hands to see if she was the same person. - Physical Freedom
2.  In Fredrick Douglas's slave narrative, it's revealed that Fredrick Douglas's “master’s” wife would teach him how to read as a child. Once the “master” found out he quickly put an end to this… At that very moment he knew that his freedom would come thru Education, rather it be formal or informal. -Mental Freedom
3.  When Nina Simone was asked what Freedom means. She eluded to the fact that freedom is like an acquired taste. She said "It is a feeling" that feeling has to be experienced. One of which she mentions she's felt while performing. -Emotional Freedom

Although their liberation came in different forms, all of them intersect. Not only do they all intersect but their journey to acquiring freedom required battles. We live in a world where there are many forces that opposes our freedom. Those forces do everything in their power to stop our liberation. However, you have to be willing to fight for your freedom. Fight for your livelihood. And also fight for the freedom of others because "injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." How can one truly be liberated if their brothers and sisters aren't?

I don't know about you all. But I dream of operating under a level of freedom where little black boys and girls and all the other children of the world can look at me and say, " I want to be like that.” That’s what all the great, sheroes and heroes like Harriet Tubman, Nina Simone, Fredrick Douglas, and Martin Luther King Junior did.

And so, I wish to leave you with this

No matter what physically, mentally, or emotionally binds you. Rather your shackles are visible or invisible, know that freedom exists on different planes, and all of them intersect. I challenge you to fight for your liberation, in doing so you are directly and indirectly fighting for the next generations' liberation, and so on and so on... just as the generations did before us. So that our descendants can hear the bells when Freedom rings. Thank you MLK.



The Language of Freedom

Chanel Beebe : 01.16.17

I speak the language of artifacts,
of perspectives explained
only in the form of revolution

I speak in head nods,
in cultures with language of colors

I speak the voice of MLK
mixed over Jill Scott beats.
I was raised on long car rides
listening to old folks talk

I was implanted and etched
with the pen strokes of Langston
the burst strokes of Basquiat
and the swag of Detroit Graffiti.

I am the destined breath of caged birds.
Caged bird set free inside of me,
she sings of lands so wild and free.
No time or clocks just guarantees
of love and life to feel and see

Caged bird set free inside of me
let your freedom ring.

Based on Willis “Bing” Davis’s Urban Cross and “Playgrounds as Battlegrounds”

Christ Lockdown

Latrice Young : 1.16.17

In this home locked
doors mean nothing.
It’s so broken anyone,
can find a way in.
Such a terrible tragedy
occurred here
Still… it’s standing.
Roots cracking in despair
from Black Holocausts
discussed once a year
by children of oppressors.

Those who brought
Faith to this home
watch it collapse
day after day,
condemning each
family member
of a task they never had
a chance of completing.

But in Christ,
they are saved,
held together
by the bond
of a sacrificed
being who they were told
would come back and repay
them for their
obedience to Massa.

Massa didn’t build
this home but
Massa owns it.
Massa can’t speak
their words.
So, he say he
belongs here.
And they don’t.

What a sad sight
to witness on a daily basis,
a foundation bricked into
false motivations.
Individuals tricked into thinking
their pink-like vacant minds
are a sin to their Savior.
The one who gave his life
for their lives to be lived
in shackles and chains,
only free when
the Good Lord reigns,
declaring all bodies
unworthy of acceptance
into the gates of Heaven.

Everyone's on
Christ Lockdown
bound by "The Cross",
the holy symbol of peace.
These families yearn
for tranquility.
So, they nail it
into their doors,
lifting their spirits
more and more,
feeling the power
of Jesus
in their hearts.



Each entrance and exit.
with sight of the cross
provides hope.
A better day to those who
are experiencing hate crimes.
The cross is Deliverance
from jail time.
It's watching Martin
Luther King's Dream Shatter,
while government
negates that Black
signing all but 1%
of the population's souls away.

The cross isn't what
pink-folk wrote on paper.
It's resilience found
in loving all thy neighbors
both evil and good.
It's the excitement one
gets from
Hearing DJ Khaled's
to my hood" song
Blaring in car radios.
Because at least
within this community
There's a a shared pain
that everyone knows
didn't end in the 1960s.

At first glance,
this is merely a home
with destructive outside
Forces sneaking their way in.

But if you look again,
You'll see resistance
to the wear and tear attitudes
knocking continuously.
This home is still stable
able to withstand any
and all natural disasters,
So, when disrespectful minds
walk up to its platform
they'd better
prepare for a battle.
Because the homeowners
know a thing or two
about reconstruction
and the Cross will always win.