UNC Greensboro will host a symposium featuring keynote speakers, poets and performers. “Celebrating God’s Trombones: African American Cadences and Culture” acknowledges the 90th anniversary publication of James Weldon Johnson’s beloved work. All events are free and open to the public.
When the noted author and NAACP activist James Weldon Johnson sat down to write “The Creation” and “Go Down, Death,” some of the first poems of “God’s Trombones,” he sought to acknowledge the poetry of African American folk sermons: the “rhythmic dance” of the preacher’s strides, the “wonderful voice” “not of an organ or a trumpet, but rather of a trombone, the instrument possessing above all others the power to express the wide and varied range of emotions encompassed by the human voice—and with greater amplitude.” His project in writing “God’s Trombones” was to invite a broader culture of listeners into the world of the African American preacher and his congregants. The sermons have captivated the attention of generations, and they continue to be performed in a loving expression of Johnson’s vision for the acknowledgment of African American folk culture in the American nation.
This event will feature an exhibit in Hodges Reading Room Special Collections as well as a performance by the trombone shout band Kenny and the Tigers, with scholarly presentations and poetry readings. The full schedule:
“God’s Trombones: African American Cadences and Culture”
Thursday, March 15
Lecture: Randall Burkett, Research Curator for African American Collections, Emory University
10 a.m., Hodges Reading Room, Special Collections, UNCG Jackson Library
Poetry reading: Ross Gay, Associate Professor of English, Indiana University
7 p.m., UNCG Faculty Center
Friday, March 16
Paula Marie Seniors, Associate Professor of Africana Studies, Virginia Tech
Frank Woods, Assistant Professor of African American and African Diaspora Studies, UNCG
Shaun Spencer-Hester, Executive Director, Anne Spencer House and Garden Museum
Lori Brooks, Professor of History, Fordham University
Sherrie Marcia Damon, DMA, UNCG
Keith Cartwright, Professor of English, University of North Florida
10 a.m.-3:30 p.m. EUC Auditorium
Dramatic Reading: “God’s Trombones,” members of the UNCG community
5 p.m., Music Recital Hall, Rm. 100, School of Music and Performing Arts, 100 McIver St.
Kenny and the Tigers Trombone Shout Band
7:30 p.m., Music Recital Hall, Room 100, School of Music and Performing Arts, 100 McIver St.
All events are sponsored by the Class of 1952 Alumni Fund; Department of English, with support from the Honors College; African American and African Diaspora Studies; the Department of History; Religious Studies; Women’s and Gender Studies; Languages, Literatures, and Cultures; the Humanities Network Consortium; and the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.