Thursday, February 2, 2012

Black Studies @ SIUE and Music

Al Henderson capturing footage for a black studies project  New York City, May 2009
A few years ago, Al Henderson, one of our long-time contributors, became something of a legend among close observers of our program. We were running an online discussion group and our man Henderson was known to make the most intellectual and informative comments. “Who is this dude?” folks would ask. “Where does he hang out? How does he know so much?”

Henderson was a commuter and taking graduate courses in the evenings, so few of the undergraduates came in contact with him. For many of them, he was this invisible figure with a powerful intellectual presence in our circles, always dropping knowledge on the blog. The mysteriousness of it all helped build an aura around the person behind the thoughtful comments.

Henderson’s legendary status began to expand even more as the Black Studies Program began including hip instrumentals behind our recordings of poets and various soundtracks for our events. “Who does your music?” the hip listeners always came up to me and asked at events. “Oh that…that’s our man Henderson,” I’d reply.

In 2010, Henderson produced the video section for our Malcolm X Mixtape. The five short videos—entitled “education,” “justice,” “ex-slaves,” “revolution,” and “racism”—represent a really compelling suite and extension of Malcolm’s vision. Henderson’s work on the mixtape is quite exceptional.

Close listeners have been especially impressed with his work. With an encyclopedic knowledge of black music, Henderson has provided us with no less than 100 audio clips for our program presentations, audio-visual exhibits, and youtube videos. Overall, Henderson has further solidified the distinct look and resonance of our projects and our engagements with music and digital technologies.

28 Ways of Thinking about Black Studies & Afrofuturism

No comments: