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August 04, 2009

Poems For Jamaica

Poems For Jamaica

This week, The National Black Theatre Festival kicks off in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Poet Kwame Dawes will be there to perform his poetry set to music in a work called HOPE: Living and Loving with HIV in Jamaica.

In 2007, Kwame traveled to his homeland of Jamaica to write a series of commissioned articles on HIV/AIDS. The people he met told him their stories, and taught him about resilience, hope and possibility in the face of despair. Kwame was inspired to write his poetry, and says that poems can actually create empathy in a way that journalism can't. Janet Babin talks to Kwame about why Jamaicans with HIV are stigmatized, and how people can be brave and weak, angry and loving, all at the same time.

Dedicated to The Proposition: One Woman Sings

This week, we're listening back to the special series we aired around the time of the Presidential inauguration. When Barack Obama spoke from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial days before taking office, he recalled the words Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke at the March on Washington. Bernice Johnson-Reagon performed at the 1963 March on Washington with the Freedom Singers. The day before the march, they finished a gig in California and took a red-eye flight to D.C. Bernice says although she was not nervous, she was overwhelmed by the large number of people who decided to come to one place and take a massive stance against racism.

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