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Birth of a Nation and Culturally Responsive Education

Last week at the Murphy Institute, I had the pleasure of meeting Erika Ewing, an Educational Engagement Strategist who works with the CUNY Creative Arts Team. She had just finished running a workshop which engaged high school students in rigorous conversation about the film “Birth of a Nation” following an arranged screening of the film for them at an AMC theater. 

In the piece below, Ewing discusses the responsibility of educators to be open and honest with youth about American history, the ways in which non-traditional approaches to education challenges young people to think constructively and critically and how promoting more open discussion of films like Parker’s “Birth of Nation” plays a seminal role.

— Zenzile Greene, Arts and Culture Editor


“Don’t let your past define your future.” It’s a quote we’ve all heard some version of before. But when we’re confronted with our own dark pasts, how easy is it to take this advice? Continue reading Birth of a Nation and Culturally Responsive Education

Worker/Artists at The 32BJ Art Show

This weekend, the 9th annual 32BJ Art show displayed a variety of artwork from its 32BJ and 1199 members, including city and office building workers alike. The work featured paintings, sketches and a live show, which included singing, poetry and performance art.

Read more about this amazing event, which connected worker/artists with a supportive platform. This display of art in various mediums emphasizes the importance of labor/arts events such as this one: they open up possibilities and lift up cultural production in the lives of city and office workers.

Artists-in-Residence: SPS Workers Share Their Photography, Inspiration

By Zenzile Greene-Daniel

In December of last year, I was honored to be invited to participate in a special Brown Bag lunch at SPS in which I and three of my colleagues gave individual presentations on our use of the medium of photography. I was very excited to take part — and especially to learn more about the creative projects of my fellow workers.

Continue reading Artists-in-Residence: SPS Workers Share Their Photography, Inspiration

Michael J. Fortner on Criminal Justice – Roots & Reform

By Cher Mullings
Recording by Zenzile Greene

Why would members of the Harlem community consciously support policies that endorse incarceration of their brothers and sisters?

Dr. Michael J. Fortner’s latest book Black Silent Majority: The Rockefeller Drug Laws and The Politics of Punishment examines how black-on-black crime influenced a chasmic class division within Harlem from the 1940s – 1960s.

Continue reading Michael J. Fortner on Criminal Justice – Roots & Reform

Creative Arts Night Featured Panelist: Agunda Okeyo

On June 12th, 2015, the Murphy Institute Blog Arts & Culture Editors hosted the first ever Creative Arts Night at the Murphy Institute. In the coming weeks, we’ll be posting some footage from our esteemed panelists and performers.

Here, activist, filmmaker and writer Agunda Okeyo discusses her unique role in the world of art, social justice and the imagination. Agunda was also featured in this month’s issue of Time Out NYC in a section featuring Best Comedy Shows run by females.