This Week in Black Art and Culture: Maria Rosario Jackson to head the National Endowment for the Arts, Netflix fund Chadwick Bozeman Scholarship at Howard, Guggenheim Appoints Claudia Rankine

This week in Black art and culture, Tanzanian author Abdulrazak Gurnah was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. The Chadwick Boseman Scholarship, was slatedto be funded by Netflix and Howard University at $5.4 million. Joe Biden nominated Maria Rosario Jackson to head the National Endowment for the Arts. The Performers for the 2022 Super Bowl Halftime Show were announced. Will Packer was announced as the 94th Academy Awards producer. And Claudia Rankine joined the board of trustees of the Guggenheim Museum.

Tanzanian Novelist to Receive Nobel Prize in Literature

The novelist Abdulrazak Gurnah will receive the 2021 Nobel Prize in Literature “for his uncompromising and compassionate penetration of the effects of colonialism and the fate of the refugee in the gulf between cultures and continents.” Gurnah was born in 1948 and grew up on the Indian Ocean island of Zanzibar before fleeing to England as a refugee in the late 1960s. He’s written 10 books and a collection of short tales.

Throughout his art, the topic of the refugee’s disturbance recurs. His work, Paradise, published in 1994, won the Booker Prize and marked his debut as a novelist. It portrayed the narrative of a young boy growing up in Tanzania in the early 20th century. His novel, By the Sea, published in 2001, follows a refugee in aBritish coastal town. Afterlives, his most recent book, starts up where Paradise left off and takes place during the German colonization of Africa.

Until his recent retirement, he was professor of English and postcolonial literatures at the University of Kent. Since Wole Soyinka won in 1986, Gurnah is the first Black African author to win the prize. This Nobel Prize is the fourth to be awarded this week. On Friday, the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize will be announced.

Chadwick Boseman Scholarship

Howard University and Netflix announced Monday that a $5.4 million scholarship fund in the late actor’s name has been established and granted to four students at his alma mater. The Chadwick A. Boseman Memorial Scholarship will cover all four years of tuition at Howard’s College of Fine Arts, which wasrenamed in his honor earlier this year. The prize will be awarded to those who exhibit outstanding artistic abilities as well as financial necessity.

“It is with immense pleasure and deep gratitude that we announce the creation of an endowed scholarship in honor of alumnus Chadwick Boseman, whose life and contributions to the arts continue to inspire,” said Dr. Wayne A. I. Frederick, president of Howard University. “This scholarship embodies Chadwick’s love for Howard, his passion for storytelling, and his willingness to support future generations of Howard students. I am thankful for the continuous support and partnership of Chadwick’s wife, Mrs. Simone Ledward-Boseman, and to Netflix for this important gift.”

Netflix is the scholarship’s initial donor, and the monies will be granted to one new freshman yearly beginning this fall, with one award for each class year. Freshman Sarah Long (musical theater), sophomore Shawn Smith (acting), junior Janee’ Ferguson (theater arts administration), and senior Deirdre Dunkin (dance) are the first awardees.

Dr. Maria Rosario Jackson Nominated to Head NEA

Dr. Maria Rosario Jackson, an arts and humanities administrator and professor at Arizona State University, is President Biden’s candidate to lead the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). Significant numbers of arts and cultural programming are supported by the NEA around the country. The White House also announced that Biden will appoint Shelly Lowe to theNational Endowment for the Humanities as chair. Both will need to be confirmed by congress as Chairs to serve four-year terms.

Jackson formerly served on the National Council on the Arts, which supervises the National Endowment for the Arts, and was a co-chair of the County of Los Angeles Cultural Equity and Inclusion Initiative, where she serves as an advisory board member. If confirmed, she will be the first African Americanand Mexican American chairperson. And Lowe would be the first Native American to serve as chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities. A member of the National Council on the Humanities, she has served as executive directorof the Harvard University Native American Program, associate dean in the Yale College dean’s office, and director of Yale University’s Native American Cultural Center.

Big Names at 2022 Super Bowl Halftime

Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Mary J. Blige and Kendrick Lamar will hit the stage at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California on Sunday, Feb. 13, 2022 for the Pepsi Super Bowl LVI Halftime Show, which will air on NBC. The Pepsi SuperBowl LVI Halftime Show will be the first time these five musicians will perform on stage together, and the first time in over 30 years that the city hosts the Super Bowl.

Three of these record industry legends are from the surrounding Los Angeles area: Dre and Lamar (Compton) and Snoop Dogg (Long Beach). DPS will produce the Pepsi Super Bowl LVI Halftime Show broadcast, with Roc Nation and Jesse Collins serving as executive producers. Director Hamish Hamilton is back. Roc Nation is also acting as the live performance’s strategic entertainment advisers. The concert in 2022 will be the third year of a partnership between Pepsi, the NFL and Roc Nation.

Above: Will Packer. Image from Facebook 

Will Packer To Produce 94th Academy Awards

Will Packer has been appointed producer of the 94th Academy Awards, which will be held at the Dolby Theatre on March 27. Shayla Cowan, head of staff at Will Packer Productions and Will Packer Media, will co-produce the 2022 broadcast. Other partners, such as a director and a possible host, are still being finalized.

Packer is new to the program, with no previous Oscarsexperience and no significant track record in live telecasts. His filmography includes Straight Outta Compton, Think Like a Man, and Ride Along. His television credits include That Girl Lay Lay as well as Emmy-nominated Being Mary Jane, Uncle Buck, and the adaptation of Roots.

Last year’s Academy broadcast attracted 9.23 million people, down 51% from the 18.69 million who had tuned in in 2020. It was a new low in terms of viewing. By bringing filmmakers intothe production, the aim is for the ceremonies to rekindle the fire that they once had, as award show viewership across the board is rapidly declining.

Guggenheim’s Second Black Female Trustee Appointed

Claudia Rankine, a poet, dramatist, and writer, has been elected as the Guggenheim Museum’s second Black female trustee. Rankine is just the second Black woman to serve on the board; the first was photographer Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe, the widow of tennis star Arthur Ashe, who served from 1993 to 1994.

Rankine is the author of five collections of poetry, including Citizen: An American Lyric and Don’t Let Me Be Lonely: AnAmerican Lyric, as well as three plays, including Help, which will premiere at the Shed in New York in March 2020, and a new collection of essays, Just Us: An American Conversation,published by Graywolf Press.

Rankine has received fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the Lannan Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, United States Artists, and the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as the Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry from the Library of Congress and the Jackson Poetry Prize from Poets & Writers. Rankine has served as the chancellor of the Academy of American Poets on several occasions. She is a creative writing professor at New York University.

Rankine said, “It’s truly an honor to be joining the board of trustees, serving a museum that has done so much for the advancement of both literary and visual culture. It is with greatanticipation and excitement that I enter into the Guggenheim’s conversations in service of artists, writers and community.”

In addition, Naomi Beckwith was named the museum’s first Black deputy director and head curator in January. Ty Woodfolk was hired as the company’s first chief culture and inclusion officer in July.

– Compiled by Sumaiyah E. Wade

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