This, according to Mike Sonksen of KCET, is the simple question that Peter J. Harris asks in his nonfiction “meditation” The Black Man of Happiness.
Before he defines this in a myriad of ways, he also identifies the obstacles that get in the way. Harris not only debunks negative stereotypes of the African-American man, he empowers readers with his frank discussion about being a son, father, stepfather, grandfather, creating brotherhood with his gay colleague and transcending his youngest daughter’s rape by her Black stepfather. Written in a literary style that merges heartfelt sincerity, raw honesty, and humor, there is much inspiration in these pages. (“Selections of Summer Reading: The Black Man of Happiness to Showtime,” by Mike Sonksen/KCET.org)
From 1999-2004, Harris had a radio show on KPFK, “Inspiration House: Voice Music for Whole Living,” that had poets reading their works to recorded music. He’s also been a founding publisher, an editor, a poet, and an educator. His Black Man of Happiness Project includes a presence on the internet, theatrical productions, videos, and literature, “answering the one elemental question: What is a happy Black man?” (Black Man of Happiness Project).
Harris and Gerda Govine Ituarte, Hometown Pasadena “Write Here” contributor and president of Consejo Fronterizo de Arte y Cultura (COFAC) invite the public to “A Night at the Pasadena Playhouse” on August 30th.
The evening will include a reception and chat with Harris, followed by readings from The Black Man of Happiness (as well as a copy of the book).
To commemorate the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer or the Mississippi Summer Project, spirituals and civil rights era songs will be performed by David Crittendon, who participated in the 1964 campaign to register Black voters.
According to Doug McAdam’s Freedom Summer (1988, Oxford University Press), during the ten-week project:
- 1,062 people were arrested (out-of-state volunteers and locals)
- 80 Freedom Summer workers were beaten
- 37 churches were burned or bombed
- 30 Black homes or businesses were burned or bombed
- James Earl Chaney, Andrew Goodman & Michael Schwerner, Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) members, were murdered by the Mississippi White Knights of the KKK
- 4 people were critically wounded
The evening’s ticket also includes a voucher to see Kiss Me, Kate, “the musical comedy masterpiece” by composer Cole Porter and authors Sam and Bella Spewack (PBS.org), which will be staged at the Pasadena Playhouse and star Wayne Brady.
The Pasadena Playhouse production will view Kiss Me, Kate through a new lens, using the wonderful material of this celebrated production to showcase the trailblazing African-American actors and entertainers of the early 20th century. (PasadenaPlayhouse.org)
A Night at the Pasadena Playhouse
Saturday, August 30th, 7 p.m.
Pasadena Playhouse, 39 S. El Molino Ave. 91101
Tickets: $55, purchase here
For complete details, visit PasadenaPlayhouse.org
Or call 626.356.7529