The Public Square

Melvin Armstrong, Jr., On The Lack of Community Support for Local African-American Performing Artist

Melvin Armstrong, Jr., On The Lack of Community Support for Local African-American Performing Artists

I grew up in a Prophetic black church tradition, so as a young child I was introduced to the black sacrament of hope despite being in terrible circumstances. This unavoidable, inescapable necessary condition of my existence has served me well in my short time on this planet, but as of late I must admit my time here in the twin cities has become increasingly frustrating for several reasons, one of which is the lack of support I see for struggling black performing artists in our beloved community.

In a day where we are bombarded with derogatory characterizations of Black humanity in general, and more specifically the humanity of the benighted Black Male, I have been shocked by the lack of support for the work of some local black performing artists.

This is problematic on several levels: first, I think all too often folks are not wont to recognize the positive role these individuals have in that they have taken up a life of relative obscurity and financial insecurity for the sake of adding to the quality of life of not only their racial kindred but to the entirety of the human family.

The artist in my view has a very important social function in that in my view it is the through the aesthetic realm that we may have our last bastion of hope for a qualitatively different society.

For example I have had the pleasure of getting to know a man named Rodney George Peacock, who is an area native who allowed me to read his drama called Noontide, a three-part Wagnerian drama with music.

This is a tale of becoming and self actualization. I think anyone would be well served for becoming involved in a project like this, which is very fruitful. This is so because it attempts to destroy the myth of what realms of exploration is proper for a black man to explore. As a black man who owes a tremendous intellectual debt to the "Frankfurt School," I think Mr. Peacock is doing a laudable thing and as such I would hope that the community would listen to his artist statement to the community scheduled to air on WEFT radio on September 18th from 7-9 and the accompanying interview to follow immediately thereafter.