One of the main reasons for us to come to New York is that a part of the personal collection of Hermie Huiswoud can be found at the archive of New York University. We did not now what to expect though. Over the past few days we've delved into the boxes and found personal letters, personal documents, photographs, articles, poetry and even the script of a play written and collected by Hermie.😌😌
I feel like a kid in a candy store going through the boxes and like we are solving a puzzle about a hidden history of black revolutionairs in which we have to find the missing pieces. We found a few interesting pieces already such as a folder with biographies of women which Hermie met such as Shirley Graham, wife of the late WEB duBois. Hermie writed that her impression was that he was "inaccessible, cocky and aloof" but after spending times with him in the Soviet Union but they became good friends later.
She also wrote about her travellings through the Carribean with Otto Huiswoud in which they attempted to mobilize black trade union workers and debated Marcus Garvey in Jamaica. Through the Communist party and other radical organizations such as the African Blood Brotherhood they were in contact with notable figures such as Jomo Kenyatta, George Padmore, Claude McKay and others. We also found even more letters by and to Langston Hughes, the well known Harlem Renaissance poet, showing that they had a strong relationship. She even wrote some poetry herself. The documents and photographs show that they lead a fascinating life fully dedicated to the struggle against capitalism, imperialism and racism in a time in which most black people were still bound by the yoke of the systems they fought against since the 1920s
Altough this work doesnt feel like work we also have some time to relax and enjoy the weather and the city that never sleeps. One of the highlights already was the free Central Park "Tribute to Prodigy" concert with Mobb Deep's Havoc.🔥🔥🔥
The coming days we will look into the archive further and visit a few other cultural institutions. Next week we will go to Washingto DC to meet curators of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture also known as thr Blacksonian. On Friday August 11th we will give a presentation at the Sankofa Video Books & Cafe bookstore near Howard university. If you happen to be in DC, link up! See: https://www.facebook.com/events/186547045219176/?ti=cl
Today is also exactly one month that we launched our crowdfunding campaign. We already got the support of more than 600 people and raised more than €18.000. We have one week left to reach €20.000, if you havent donated yet, please do and support the Black Archives. This trip makes us realize even more how important it is to document, archive and tell our own stories! Donate via: Apura!
Greetings from the other side of the Atlantic. The coming 3 weeks a delegation of the Black Archives will be strolling through New York and Washington DC to investigate the hidden history of black radicals Otto and Hermie Huiswoud and to get some inspiration and insight from different cultural institutions.😌😌
Otto Huiswoud was born in Surinam and Hermie in British Guyana. Both of them became engaged in radical political circles in Harlem before and during the Harlem Renaissance so we had a great start of our trip with the Harlem Renaissance walking tour. It was amazing to walk through the streets were many historical figures and many of my personal heroes once walked and worked. We visited the place where Marcus Garvey held his first public meeting, the block where Malcolm X gave his first speeches and the place where Langston Hughes wrote his poems.😍😍😍 These are also the streets where the Huiswouds radicalized and became part of an international anti-imperial and anti-colonial revolutionary movement but the tour guide had not heard of them yet, which is not a suprise as their story has remained hidden for most peopel for a long time.
The coming days we will be talking to archivists, curators and scholars and we'll be visiting institutions such as the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library which holds an exhibition about the Black Power movement now. There are several institutions who have decades of experience in documenting, archiving and exhibiting black history and cukture in the US and we are just getring started in Amsterdam. Our research will be used for the exhibition we aim to launch in November this year. We will blog/vlog via the website, the first one is coming up soon. You can still support our crowdfunding campaign via Apura. (For the record, none of the crowdfunding funds will be used for this research trip). Donate via Apura.
Oh yeah, we have some free time to do some sightseeing and visit nice places as well...any tips for must see's, do's and eat's are welcome 👌🏾👌🏾
By Mitchell Esajas, July 29th 2017