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Give Back NH: Afrofuturism

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Emily Quirk / NHPR
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President of Seacoast African American Cultural Center, Sandi Kaddy. The Afrofuturism Exhibition features artists and creators from around the Greater Seacoast region.

Give Back New Hampshire is a bi-weekly segment that spotlights New Hampshire nonprofit organizations. It airs every other Saturday at 9:35 during Weekend Edition.

With concerts, educational programs, and valuable collections of African artifacts, the Seacoast African American Cultural Center has become the hub of activity to showcase the contributions of individuals of African descent in the seacoast community.

The center has collaborated with UNH, Green Acres A Baha'i Learning Center, and Theater For the People to create a multi-month art exhibition celebrating Afrofuturism.

Imagining a world where we're absolutely free. That has to be the mindset that you have to get into in order to create.
Najee Brown

TRANSCRIPT:

Sandi Kaddy (President of SAACC): My name is Sandi Kaddy, and I am the president of the Seacoast African-American Cultural Center.

To me, Afrofuturism means what if slavery didn't happen? What would the world look like? Imagine a vision of the future in which the stains of our collective past do not paint the present. Imagine a culture unencumbered by the weight of oppressive structures meant to divide and suppress.

Video Audio: Imagine a society in which people of color the African diaspora are not tokenized or seen as other. This is a vision of Afrofuturism, a vision of the future in which people of Africa...

Kaddy: So this particular exhibit, as you look around, you'll see so many different genres of art. We have videos. We have spoken word, we have art done in acrylics, some with painting, some with macramé... all different. And it's all telling pretty much the same story: What if?

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Emily Quirk / NHPR
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Najee Brown (Theater for the People), Dr. Casey Golomski (UNH), Sandi Kaddy (SAACC) & Robert Sapiro (Green Acres) have combined efforts to create a multi-month exhibition celebrating Black joy.

Dr. Casey Golomski (SAACC Board Member): I'm a professor of anthropology at the University of New Hampshire.

So my role in the Afrofuturism exhibit was bringing about a dozen students in a class I was teaching on Black religions— to find masks, carvings, anything that we already had in our [artifacts] collection that paired well, or resonated with some of the contemporary art that artists contributed as part of the submissions.

I think that's one of the defining aspects of Afrofuturism. It's like we can't know where we're going or envision something better —unless we know where we've been.

Najee Brown (Founder of Theater For the People):

My name is Najee Brown. I'm a board member of SAACC. I served as our artist-in-residence at Green Acres, and I founded recently a BIPOC theater company called Theater for the People.

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Emily Quirk / NHPR
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Najee Brown is a playwrite, performer, and director who recently founded Theater For the People.

Whether it's through plays or photography or videos, I love doing things about everyday people... and you have to then think about Black joy, Black happiness, Black excitement, Black success, Black leadership. What does that look like for us to be in the world where there's no shackles on us; where people are not staring at us funny when we walk through the door, or people are not doubting our abilities, right? We're absolutely free to create, to grow, to change without people thinking that we can't.

Robert Sapiro (Green Acres A Baha'i Center of Learning) : My name is Robert Sapiro, and I'm the administrator at Green Acres A Baha'i Center of Learning in Elliot, Maine. And I'm part of the collaborative team with SAACC and Theater for the People for Afrofuturism.

You know, it's funny because when we first did it, people were like, You're doing Afrofuturism in Maine and New Hampshire?? Like, what's ... what is happening with that?

And I think we're finding that that's actually an incredible opportunity to be able to do it here and to kind of give people an opportunity to really explore, explore the possibilities.

The things that we're sort of most wanting are more and more folks to come really engage with the art, which means not only coming and seeing it, but also having conversations about it and exploring this whole series of events that will be collaborating on from now until October is one of the things that I would love to see for folks in New Hampshire to really begin to explore together with us.

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Get Involved! Learn more about how you can experience Afrofuturism, here.

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