Oct 12, 2020, 6PM

Mondays with Milford: Family Reunion – Americans at Festac

Dick Young and Gerald Krell, Family Reunion – Americans at Festac (1978), sound and color, 35:57.

Bi-weekly virtual screenings of rare digital footage from Milford Graves’s archives will be shown on icaphila.org throughout the run of A Mind-Body Deal, along with additional video selections and dialogues that contextualize Graves’s practice. Screenings begin at 6PM and will remain online until the next event.

For a schedule of screenings, click here.

Family Reunion – Americans at Festac

In 1977, Black artists (painters, poets, dancers, and musicians) converged on Lagos, Nigeria on January 15th, the birthdate of the late Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., for a homecoming known as Festac ‘77. For those in attendance, in particular Black Americans, the occasion marked a long-awaited reunion with a culture, language, and tradition taken from them through enslavement. Despite the circumstances thrust upon them, Black people from across the Americas persevered and remained connected to their African heritage rooted in a collective sense of identity. This dynamic is visible throughout the film from the opening chants of “We are an African people…Africa is one…Africa is blackness, blackness is supreme.”

The film is punctuated with performances by Milford Graves, Miriam Makeba, Nadi Qamar, and various dance ensembles, theater companies, and gospel choirs. What is particularly striking is the relationship between artistic and religious modes of expression that mesh African, Latin, and American cultures into one. The blending of disparate forms–Oshun and Jehovah, gospel hymns and spiritual chants, jazz/R&B and African drumming–is testament to Black people’s resilience and their ability to hold on to the remnants of their cultural identity under the most severe conditions.

Family Reunion – Americans at Festac (1978)
Directed by Dick Young and Gerald Krell
Narration by Schyleen Qualls
Runtime: 35:57