Ariadne’s Notes: We had the best Black History Month Celebration ever! Starting with Keisha Prince, Dr. Mark Lomax and ending with Addena Sumter Freitag and Wadada Leo Smith! The theme that stood out was the message of positivity and celebrating our differences plus healing together.
World Poetry Café Radio Show , 100.5 FM, CFRO on February 28, 1-2 PM PST was so honoured to have World Poetry Lifetime Achievement Award Winner and Ambassador to Jamaica , Addena Sumter Freitag call into the show with her great knowledge of Black History in Canada. Addena is a wonderful poet, actress and writer. Every year, when we celebrated Black History Month at the VPL, she would bring the most beautiful display and participate in the celebration. On the show, she told stories about her mom who was a real heroine as well and also read a poem for Rosa Parks.
Also on the show was the renowned Wadada Leo Smith with his Oratorio on Rosa Parks who will be featured soon. E-poem by Rabia Ahrar, a new story by Sharon Rowe and poems by Victor Schwartzman .
We also heard the voice of Rosa Parks speaking thanks to Victor’s search for her archives.
Addena Sumter-Freitag is from a 7th generation African-Canadian family.
She grew up in Winnipeg’s North End, and lived 12 years in Canada’s Arctic where she worked as a Community Development Worker for Status of Women NWT, and served 4 years as a Board member of Status of Women Canada. In her Social and Community Services career, Addena worked extensively with Women, Women’s Groups and with Aboriginal youth.
Addena is an actor as well as a published and award winning author.
Her first book “Stay Black & Die”, published by Commodore Books, has been included in English curriculum reading lists at UBC, Universery of Victoria, Emily Carr, Vanier College (Montreal), and also included in U.B.C Women’s Studies courses.
Her second book, “Back In The Days”, published by Wattle and Daub, was the 3rd of three books reviewed in Canadian Literature Quarterly by Atef Laouyene. The review was entitled, “Of Violence and Poetry”.
Addena writes and performs in English, although her poems have been translated to French and Korean. She is well known in the Canadian Theatre and Arts community. Writing and performing are her first loves.
Here is her poem for Rosa Parks:
When Rosa Parks was 81, a robber broke into her house With the pretense of chasing away an intruder. He asked her for a Tip for his deed, and when she went to give him money he then proceeded to rob her. He hit her in the process and she fought to defend herself and then he beat her severely and threw her down stairs and took all the money she had. She moved from her house to an apartment after this incident.”
You were Dog-Tired
And Alabama parched
Hero was ‘the furthest’ from your mind’
When they ‘threw you into the light’
After you’d had so much darkness
Color it Lime.
How they held you up
And so cherished
On everyone’s lips
In everyone’s eyes
Strange, that the calendar was your enemy
It isn’t fair!
It is fair
That one of them ‘Chillin’
You ‘wore your feet out’ for
Took his tragic rage out on you
He battered your face
Your heart …
For Fifty-three bucks.
Then he threw you down
And hurled you toward
Your final darkness.
© 2005 Addena Sumter-Freitag. All rights reserved by author.
Source: Addena Sumter-Freitag.