|Eugene B. Redmond making remarks at the close of the ceremony, Dec. 1|
On December 1, in East St. Louis, about 150 or so of us gathered to celebrate with poet Eugene B. Redmond for his 75th birthday. There was jazz and blues, African drumming, tributes, and of course poetry. The celebration was a lively affair.
During the course of the evening's program, a dozen or so people made short statements honoring Redmond. Haki Madhubuti spoke about working with Redmond on projects since the 1960s. Local journalist Vicki Bennington spoke about her experiences writing about Redmond for different news articles over the years. The Mayor of East St. Louis, Alvin Parks, read a proclamation acknowledging Redmond's accomplishments over the years.
Poet Treasure Shields Redmond, Eugene Redmond's daughter, read a letter from Maya Angelou wishing her good friend "Eugenius" Redmond a happy birthday. Treasure, and another one of Redmond's daughter's Ira, then joined Redmond near the front podium as they danced to Stevie Wonder's "Happy Birthday" song. Redmond, to the audience's delight, was breaking out all types of smooth dance moves during the song.
At the close of the program, Redmond reflected on growing up in East St. Louis and maintaining friendships with people that had lasted since he was in elementary school in the city. He focused less on his writings, teaching, and thousands of wonderful photographs, and spoke more on the bonds he had established with family, friends, students, colleagues, and fellow artists over the years.
Related: Photos from EBR 75th Birthday Festival