The Arts Post-MLK

Welcome to Day 2 of The Narrator’s inaugural week! On Tuesdays,  you’ll find our fun and informative take on the Arts — literature, film, visual arts, to name a few.

Many of us return to work this morning after the Martin Luther King holiday. For some, the commemoration of Dr. King’s birthday was one of reflection on non-violent progress and forgiveness or even a day of service.  But after a recent broadcast on National Public Radio, about teachers discussing their approach to the holiday, I wondered, What about the rest of the year?

Below are some artistic recommendations to remind us of Dr. King’s spirit — both entertaining and reflective — that you’ll want to check out past the holiday weekend.

Books – Coming of Age in Mississippi by Anne Moody (1968)

Personal disclaimer: I’m one of “those people,” who borrows a book only to stare at its uncracked spine on the mantle for a year. Anne Moody’s Coming of Age survived various moves from Midwood to Fort Greene to Bed-Stuy and then sat undisturbed in its new home for nearly two years. Only after a trip home last month to Grenada, MS, did I finally have the urge to dig into the first page. Now, 352 pages in, I admit I was a fool because Moody spares no stone in her memoir: the institutional racism of raising cotton, the wide-spread poverty, the extent of community fear and apathy.  She provides a few little-known nuggets of the Civil Rights Movement, but her account of the dangers of voter registration in Madison County gives such a frustrating view of the Movement that make its achievements that much more remarkable.

Film – Nothing But a Man, Directed by Michael Roemer (1964)

Also inspired by the turbulence of the Civil Rights Movement, Director Michael Roemer’s independent film centers on Duff (Ivan Dixon), a railroad worker who falls in love and marries a preacher’s daughter (Abbey Lincoln). A respectable man, Duff struggles to support his family, but his biggest challenge is keeping quiet against the injustices of a Jim Crow-era Alabama. Although critically acclaimed on festival circuit, Nothing But a Man wasn’t given its proper due until a 1993 re-release; since then people can’t get enough of the film! It was screened yesterday at the Museum of the Moving Image, but in case you missed it, you can add this gem to your Netflix queue. (I’d even move it to position #1!)

Photography – 10 Essential Civil Rights Movement Photographers

Photos from the Civil Rights Era never cease to fascinate me in the stories they tell of the lives folks led away from the lunch counters and after the boycotts. Derek’s post on photos from American Edge did its job on my day off: It inspired me to write down a few of these stories I imagine. But when I finally closed the draft, I stumbled upon yet another collection to stare at and chew on. Flavorpill’s Caroline Stanley rounded up her list of top ten photographers of the Civil Rights Movement, which includes Bruce Davidson, Jack Thornell, Gene Herek, and Charles Moore. The highlights of these photos candidly show the inequalities of our recent past but offer less-than-regal shots of Dr. King, as well, ones that speak as loud and effectively as the speeches he famously delivered. [Flavorpill]

If you’d like to submit an Arts tip (cultural events to be covered, books or films for review, or Q&A ideas) email Rose at


  1. stumbled upon your blog. will add this to my rss reader

  2. Hooray for the new blog!

  3. Nancy Weber says

    Nothing But a Man supposedly was Malcolm X’s favorite movie. Great post Rose!