Medgar Evers College: Celebration Of Writer and Poet Aimé Césaire


Poet Aimé Césaire


The Center for Black Literature at Medgar Evers College, CUNY, in Partnership with the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and the Martinique Promotion Bureau, Celebrates Writer and Poet Aimé Césaire

The Center for Black Literature at Medgar Evers College, CUNY, welcomes John W. Franklin in celebrating the centennial of author and poet Aimé Césaire.

NATIONAL: In celebration of the centennial of author, poet, and politician Aimé Césaire (1913–2008), the Center for Black Literature, in partnership with the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and the Martinique Promotion Bureau, will present an excerpt from the film Aimé Césaire: A Voice for History by renowned director Euzhan Palcy. The screening takes place on Tuesday, October 8, 2013, from 6 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., at Medgar Evers College Campus in the Edison O. Jackson Auditorium (Academic Complex Building, 1638 Bedford Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11225).

The program is free and open to the public.

Following the film, there will be a talkback with John W. Franklin, director of Partnerships and International Programs at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. Mr. Franklin, who studied Caribbean literature with Aimé Césaire in Martinique in the 1970s, will discuss the film as well as the life and work of Césaire and the significance of his legacy. Mr. Franklin will be joined by Vivaldi Jean-Marie, assistant professor of philosophy at Medgar Evers College.

“It is an honor to have my film shown at the Medgar Evers College. Of course, it was an immense pleasure to spend so much time with Aimé Césaire during the filming of this documentary,” says film director Euzhan Palcy. “I am certain that Aimé Césaire admired Medgar Evers for his dedication and courage.”

Aimé Césaire was an influential Francophone Caribbean writer and one of the founders of the Negritude Movement, a literary and ideological movement developed by French-speaking Black intellectuals, writers, and politicians in France in the 1930s. Césaire, who passed away at the age of 94, is widely hailed as a principal crusader for civil rights in the within the French West Indies and was an early proponent of Black pride. He dedicated his life to the struggle against colonialism and its racial stereotypes and the fight to bring equality to French overseas territories.

“Aimé Césaire’s poetry, theater, political writings, and political leadership inspired my exploration of the Black, French-speaking world. In his centennial year, it is important that we must share this treasure with new generations,” says Mr. Franklin.

JOHN W. FRANKLIN, senior manager in the Office of External Affairs, at the Smithsonian’s 19th museum, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, has worked on African-American, African, and African Diaspora programs for the past 26 years at the Smithsonian. Initially, he served as researcher, French language interpreter, and presenter for the Smithsonian’s African Diaspora program of the 1976 Bicentennial Folklife Festival while living and teaching English in Dakar, Senegal. Franklin developed symposia and seminars for the Office of Interdisciplinary Studies from 1987 to 1992.

At the Smithsonian’s Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, he curated Smithsonian Folklife Festival programs on the Bahamas (1994), Cape Verdean Culture (1995), Washington, D.C. (2000), and Mali (2003). Franklin served on the Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture from 1998 to 2008. He served on the boards of the Reginald Lewis Maryland Museum of African American History and Culture from 2000 to 2009 and the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies from 2005 to 2011. He edited My Life and an Era: the Autobiography of Buck Colbert Franklin with his father, John Hope Franklin.

VIVALDI JEAN-MARIE received his Ph.D. in philosophy from the New School for Social Research in New York City. He is assistant professor of philosophy at Medgar Evers College of the City University of New York.

He is the author of Fanon: Collective Ethics and Humanism (Peter Lang Publishing, 2007) and Kierkegaard: History and Eternal Happiness (University Press of America, 2008), and has published articles in Gnosis and The Western Journal of Black Studies. Prof. Vivaldi Jean-Marie is currently working on his third book about Haitian Voodoo and Rastafarianism in Jamaica. One of the central aspects of his research is the intersection and difference between the sociopolitical experience of people of the African Diaspora and the Western philosophical tradition. This academic year, Professor Jean-Marie is also an adjunct assistant professor with the Institute for Research in African-American Studies at Columbia University.

This year marks a milestone for the Center for Black Literature as it celebrates its tenth anniversary honoring the literature by writers of the African Diaspora. Founded in 2003, and spearheaded by Dr. Brenda M. Greene, the Center for Black Literature at Medgar Evers College was established to expand, broaden, and enrich the general public’s knowledge and aesthetic appreciation of the value of Black literature; to continue the tradition and legacy of the National Black Writers Conference; to serve as a voice, mecca, and resource for Black writers; and to study the literature of people from the African Diaspora. It is the only Center devoted to this in the country. For more information about The Center for Black Literature and CBL events and programs, please visit us on

The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, a research unit of The New York Public Library, is generally recognized as one of the leading institutions of its kind in the world. For more than 85 years the Center has collected, preserved, and provided access to materials documenting black life, and promoted the study and interpretation of the history and culture of peoples of African descent. Educational and Cultural Programs at the Schomburg Center complement its research services and interpret its collections. Seminars, forums, workshops, staged readings, film screenings, performing arts programs, and special events are presented year-round.

More information about Schomburg’s collections and programs can be found at

The Martinique Promotion Bureau has been the proud sponsor of special events planned throughout 2013 to commemorate the life of Martinique’s famed poet and politician Aimé Césaire. One of its keystone events took place in Martinique, where the Toni Morrison Society placed a Bench by the Road in Fort-de-France in his honor; other events were held throughout the United States and in France. Cesaire’s homeland remains one of the most enchanting destinations in the world, and the Martinique Promotion Bureau, which is located in New York, is committed to sharing the specialness of Martinique with U.S. travelers.

For more information, visit



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