Memories live on through generations of black Americans, captured in song, dance and poetry. Playwright Karen D. Taylor illustrates many pivotal moments in history, from slavery and sharecropping to the assassination of Malcolm X and September 11. She filters each period through an African-American lens, using spoken word, Negro spirituals, jazz and salsa. Backed by strong vocals from the Riffs on Race, Love, & War Music Warriors, her passion and conviction resonate through the dimly lit interior of the Flamboyan Theatre at the Clemente. A beautifully haunting rendition of “Strange Fruit” (coupled with the “Chant to Ochosi”) highlights the injustice of racism in America and the hope for equality; incarcerated writer, journalist and vocalist Mumia Abu-Jamal delivers a chilling voiceover narration, which adds a sobering dose of reality. Although it tries to cover more than it can quite handle in an hour, the piece weaves a tapestry for New York blacks and Latinos, unified by music to create an ebb and flow, a pattern of plight and triumph that intricately summarizes the black American experience.—Ashley Evangelista
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