Where might you find discussions on Spike Lee and Justice Clarence Thomas alongside discourse on Haiti and race relations in Brazil? These are just a few of the myriad entries in the second edition of the six-volume "Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History: The Black Experience in the Americas" (Thomson Gale).
Its publication was celebrated Tuesday at a reception at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, which produced the encyclopedia in partnership with the publisher Macmillan Reference.
"There's nothing like it," the editor in chief of the encyclopedia, Princeton history professor Colin Palmer said.He said the second edition, with 400 new entries, was more ambitious than the first. The focus was widened to be hemispheric in scope, encompassing Latin America, the Caribbean, Canada, and the United Kingdom. He said its "diasporic framework"was comparative in nature.
Mr. Palmer has another reason to celebrate. The previous day, his latest book,"Eric Williams and the Making of the Modern Caribbean" (University of North Carolina Press), was published.
The Knickerbocker spoke with several contributors at the reception. Mr. Palmer said John Jay College of Criminal Justice history professor Barbara P. Josiah contributed eight entries - the largest number by any contributor - to the encyclopedia. One was on Forbes Burnham, a former president of Guyana. Other entries included one on Winifred M.I. Gaskin, one of the first female politicians of African descent in Guyana, and one on Dr. Harold A. Moody of the League of Coloured People.
Ms. Josiah was talking with another contributor to the encyclopedia, Morgan State University professor Maurice St. Pierre, who wrote various entries, including one on Sir John Carter, a Guyanese politician and lawyer. He has also recently completed a book manuscript called "The Making of a Movement Intellectual: Eric Williams and the Struggle for Political Indepen dence in Trinidad and Tobago."
Asked about the purpose of the sixvolume encyclopedia, Ms. Josiah said that while the work of figures such as W.E.B. DuBois or Marcus Garvey is well known, there are many other men and women who contributed significantly to politics, law, education, medicine, literature, and other areas whom these volumes help bring to light.
New York University history department chairman Michael Gomez contributed entries that include one on religion in the African diaspora. He said the entry offered an overview of the historiography on the subject and endeavored to capture some of the debates on the topic. He has recently published two books: "Black Crescent: The Experience and Legacy of African Muslims in the Americas" (Cambridge University Press) and "Reversing Sail" (Cambridge University Press), a primer on the African diaspora aimed at an undergraduate audience.
Other contributors attending were Western Connecticut State University professor T.K. Hunter, who wrote an entry on law and liberty in England and America; New York University graduate teaching assistant Andre Carrington, who updated entries on autobiography and lesbians, and Christolyn Williams, who wrote articles on two leaders of Antigua, V.C., Bird and Tim Hector.
Kim D. Butler, chairperson of the Department of Africana Studies at Rutgers University, wrote entries on the African diaspora as well as the black press in Brazil.As an example of her research, she cited an article in a 1920s Sao Paolo newspaper she found on a black golf association in Chicago and its defiance of the Ku Klux Klan.
Schomburg Center chief Howard Dodson introduced the program,saying the encyclopedia project got under way after he met the director of product development at Thomson Gale publishers, Helene Potter, at a dinner party hosted by the poet Maya Angelou.
Mr. Dodson said the day also marked the birthday of Arturo Alfonso Schomburg, who was born in 1874 and whose eponymous collection forms the basis of the Schomburg Center. He then proceeded to lead attendees in a rendition of "Happy Birthday."
Distinguished composers, performers, and scholars assembled Monday at Columbia University's Miller Theatre to discuss both the history and contemporary state of African music.
Participants included composer and University of Pittsburgh music professor Akin Euba and Egyptian composer and educator Halim El-Dabh, who played a composition that exhibited his version of African pianism. Mr. El-Dabh described the African elements that came through in the piece: "I'm concerned with the prime energy of the pristine African village, in which you have the sound of the people."
Others speaking were William H. Chapman Nyaho, a Ghanaian-American scholar and concert pianist; and Austrian-born Lukas Ligeti, who developed a drumming style based on music from Uganda.
Finally,there was Bongani Ndodana, who directs the Toronto-based new music group Ensemble Noir, the first Canadian classical music ensemble to extensively tour Africa. He spoke of the "inter-African dialogue" occurring among musicians. Mr. Ndodana said that in the last decade in South Africa, there is more of a feeling that "We're part of Africa."