BY SHANIQUE PALMER
03 July 2008
The Supreme Court decision was only one month old when I entered
prison, and I do not believe that I even had the vaguest idea of its
importance or historical significance. But later …this controversy
awakened me to my position in America, and I began to form a concept
of what it meant to be black in white America." –Eldridge Cleaver
In 1954, when the U.S. Supreme Court outlawed school segregation,
civil rights leader Eldridge Cleaver began to write a collection of
essays while serving a state prison sentence for marijuana possession.
Soul on Ice, his psychological autobiography, was first published in
1968, and gave an insightful look into the core of an incarcerated
black man's soul. Although the book is now 40 years old, Cleaver's
mindset bears similarities to those of many young African-American males today.
Cleaver was a member of the Black Panther Party, a black organization
that promoted civil rights and self-defense, and that was staunchly
opposed to police brutality against black people. It was most active
during the mid-1960s and '70s.
Seeking to highlight the ties between the civil rights era and
today's struggle for African-American equality, the Old Dillard
Museum presents "Soul on Ice," an exhibit that features the work of
four local contemporary artists: Addonis Parker, Wanda Paulette,
Charles Humes and Winsome Bolt.
The exhibit, scheduled for the same time as the museum's Juneteenth
exhibit, is on display throughout July at the African-American
Research Library and Cultural Center near Fort Lauderdale.
The exhibit's theme, conceptualized by Parker, the featured artist,
"captures the artists' feelings on how the movement that sought
freedom and justice during the '60s affects us today," said Derek T.
Davis, curator at the Old Dillard Museum.
Davis noted, "There was a lot of fury in the time of Cleaver, and the
artists speak about the issues and the things that they see are still
affecting the black communities in their pieces."
The Old Dillard Museum, formerly known as "the Colored School,'' was
the first school in Broward County that gave African-Americans
much-needed educational opportunities during segregation. Today, the
Broward County School Board operates the former school site as a
museum. It provides enriching exhibitions and educational
opportunities to keep black history alive.
Parker, a Miami artist and studio owner who received the 2007 Van
Guard Award from Dade County Parks and Recreation in recognition of
his work, said, "I came up with the theme 'Soul on Ice' to cause
electricity and sparks. I wanted it to be catchy and I felt that it
was a name geared towards our advancement in the African Diaspora."
Parker continued, "The exhibition is about liberation, empowerment
and respect for the riches of our souls and creativity."
The piece that Parker claims is his most controversial is called "The
Cure." It touches on many issues, such as Hurricane Katrina, the
veterans who are not getting proper treatment or a hero's welcome,
and the current high gas prices. It includes images of Malcolm X,
Martin Luther King Jr., and the Statue of Liberty, Parker said.
Paulette specializes in surreal art. One of her pieces at the
exhibition is "Call to Remembrance," a portrait of a baby surrounded
by water who is playing the guitar. The baby is singing a song that
calls her to revisit the past.
"We artists have a way of capturing those views, and my pieces
connect the past with the future,'' Paulette said. "It shows where
we've come from as a people and attempts to find out if the drive for
improvement is there, or if we've 'made it.' "
IF YOU GO
What: The Old Dillard Museum presents the art exhibit, "Soul on Ice"
Where: Broward County African-American Research Library and Cultural
Center, 2650 Sistrunk Blvd., near Fort Lauderdale
When: Grand Opening and reception on Saturday, July 5at 3 p.m.;
public exhibit runs throughout July
Contact: Derek T. Davis, 754-522-8828