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Welcome to Words without Borders annual queer issue. From raucous Mexican dives to hushed West African forests, with characters defying official crackdowns in Turkey and embracing new definitions of family in Israel, the work here explores the variety of queer experience around the world.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Paul Robeson-A Man For All Seasons: Activist, Singer, Athlete, Scholar, Actor

Remembering the great Paul Robeson on the anniversary of his death.

Paul Robeson is greeting W.E.B. Du Bois at the 1949 World Peace Congress in Paris, France. Photograph source: W.E.B. Du Bois Library, University of Massachusetts.
Mood Indigo
By Ntozake Shange

it hasnt always been this way
ellington was not a street
robeson no mere memory
du bois walked up my father's stairs
hummed some tune over me
sleeping in the company of men
who changed the world

it wasn't always like this
why ray barretto used to be a side-man
& dizzy's hair was not always grey
I remember i was there
i listened in the company of men
politics as necessary as collards
music even in our dreams

our house was filled with all kinda folks
our windows were not cement or steel
our doors opened like our daddy's arms
held us safe & loved

children growing in the company of men
old southern men & young slick ones
sonny til was not a boy
the clovers no rag-tag orphans
our crooners/we belonged to a whole world
nkrumah was no foreigner
virgil akins was not the only fighter

it hasnt always been this way
ellington was not a street

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