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Legacy of African-American Activist Audre Lorde Explored

Film screenings, book reading and discussions at Block Museum of Art

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September 24, 2012 | by Judy Moore
Audre Lorde
Audre Lorde

EVANSTON, Ill. --- “Audre Lorde’s Cultural Legacy,” a two-day program at Northwestern University, will examine the life and work of Audre Lorde, the African-American activist, poet and writer who had a profound impact on the civil rights, feminist and the LGBTQ liberation movements in the United States and abroad.

The Oct. 3 and 4 program will include the largely untold story of her residency in 1980s West Berlin, where she inspired the Afro-German community and women’s movement.

The programs, which will include a book reading and four film screenings, will be held at Block Cinema at the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art, 40 Arts Circle Drive, on the University’s Evanston campus. The event is free and open to the public.

Audre Lorde events

• “Invisible Woman: Growing up Black in Germany” book reading, 4 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 3. Audre Lorde Literary Award winner Ika Hugel-Marshall, who was a friend of Lorde, will present selections from her autobiography in a bilingual (German and English) reading. A reception follows.

“Audre Lorde: The Berlin Years 1984–1992” screening, 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 3 (Dagmar Schultz, 2012, Germany, video, 79 minutes.) Filmmaker Dagmar Schultz presents the Midwest premiere of her documentary exploring Lorde’s impact on the German political and cultural scene during a decade of profound social change. A short film produced by Schultz about the life of German-Ghanaian poet, academic and political personality May Ayim, “Hope in My Heart” (Marie Binder, 1997, Germany, video, 29 minutes), will be shown first. Michelle Wright, associate professor of African American studies, Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, will introduce the program.

“A Litany for Survival: The Life and Work of Audre Lorde” (Ada Gay Griffin and Michele Parkerson, 1995, United States, video, 90 minutes) and “The Edge of Each Other's Battles: The Vision of Audre Lorde” (Jennifer Abod, 2002, United States, video, 59 minutes) screening, 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 4. These two films explore Lorde’s life and her broader legacy. “Litany for Survival” is an epic portrait of Lorde, from her childhood roots in Harlem to her battle with breast cancer, and her inspirational body of work. “The Edge of Each Other’s Battles” centers around the groundbreaking conference “I Am Your Sister: Forging Global Connections across Differences,” which brought over 1,200 activists from more than 23 countries to Boston in 1990. D. Soyini Madison, professor of anthropology and African studies, Weinberg College, and professor and chair of the department of performance studies, School of Communication, will introduce the screenings.

“Audre Lorde’s Cultural Legacy” is sponsored by Northwestern’s departments of African American studies, English, German and history, the comparative literary studies, American studies and the Latino and Latina studies programs, the poetry and poetics colloquium, The Graduate School, the School of Communication, Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and the Alice Kaplan Institute for the Humanities. Support is also provided by the Goethe-Institut Chicago.

“Audre Lorde’s Cultural Legacy” is presented in conjunction with the Block Museum exhibition “De-Natured: German Art from Joseph Beuys to Martin Kippenberger, Selections from the James Keith Brown and Eric Diefenbach Collection,” Sept. 21 to Dec. 9.

For more information, visit blockmuseum.northwestern.edu/audrelorde or call (847) 491-4000. Free parking is available on campus after 4 p.m.