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Weekly Watchlist: Of Monuments and Memorials

Jack Whitten created memorials to notable Black figures

The late Jack Whitten memorialized important Black figures through his Black Monoliths series of paintings. Whitten began the series in the 1980s with a tribute to James Baldwin, and he continued producing new additions until his passing in 2018.

“With each one, I have to locate the essence of that person,” said Whitten. “That person becomes a symbol and I build that into the paint.”

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Jack Whitten

March 21, 2018

For educators: Download a new free guide featuring recommended questions and activities for incorporating Art21’s film featuring Jack Whitten into your classroom.

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Doreen Garner confronted a monument’s racist history

For White Man On A Pedestal, Doreen Garner’s 2017 exhibition with Kenya (Robinson) at Pioneer Works in Brooklyn, New York, Garner recreated a monument to Dr. J. Marion Sims, long considered the “father of modern gynecology” who performed torturous procedures on enslaved Black women for the purposes of experimentation and research.

“He said that Black people experience pain less so he didn’t need to use anesthesia on them,” explained Garner. “But it was just an excuse for him to torture them.”

The monument, formerly located on the east side of Central Park in New York City, was removed and relocated by the city in 2018.

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Staff picks for things to watch, read, and hear

Listen: Ear Hustle

This podcast has single-handedly done more to demystify prison life and the criminal justice system for me than literally any other piece of media. It’s nuanced, moving, and incredibly empathetic, all of which is often missing from conversations about justice/crime/incarceration.

Shared by Meghan Garven, Development and Administrative Coordinator; Listen now at Ear Hustle or on your podcast platform of choice

Read: Essential Workers Are the New “Magical Negro” by Dali Adekunle

Dali Adekunle’s essay on the “Magical Negro” is a must-read and a must-share.

Shared by Lolita Fierro, Associate Director, Major Gifts and Special Events; Read now at Electric Literature

Watch: Vanguards of the Revolution

Most of what I was taught about the Black Panther Party was cloaked in fear and stereotypes. Vanguards of the Revolution flipped my preconceived notions. Numerous interviews with founding party members, years of archival footage, and recently released government documents give a nuanced portrait of a group that is often vilified and rarely understood.

Shared by Emma Nordin, Manager of Education Initiatives; Now streaming on PBS through July 4

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