The closing Black History Month celebration at Brooklyn College held on Saturday, Feb. 29, was a book reading and documentary screening by Malika Iman, daughter of cultural community activists Yusef and Dara Iman, who were prominent figures in the Black Arts Movement. Malika read a chapter from her book, “Intimate with the Ultimate: Memoirs & Tribute to Family and Political Cultural Spiritual Activists,” and recounted her experiences growing up in an activist family and being part of the struggle for freedom, justice, and equality for people of African descent in the United States.
While reading the second chapter of her book called “InnerAttainment,” Malika presented a slideshow presentation that had photographs of many of the artists, poets, dancers, musicians, and other cultural leaders that she and her family performed with and collaborated with during the 1960s through the 1980s. Malika’s reading and presentation was full of wisdom and humor.
The audience inside of the Woody Tanger Auditorium at Brooklyn College expressed their great delight at being taken down memory lane and seeing old pictures of people and places they knew. At one point, Malika played a clip of a 1968 spoken word performance by a group that she and her siblings were part of called the “LeRoi Jones Young Spirit House Movers and Players.” The performance aired on a TV show called “Inside Bedford-Stuyvesant,” which was produced by Charles Hobson. In the segment was actress Roxie Roker, interviewing Malika’s father, Yusef Iman, who directed the group, and he discussed the history of the group before introducing their performance. By the end of the clip, the audience was shouting their approval of the message being conveyed by the young performers, who called for Black people to wake up, love themselves and learn their history!
The book reading was followed by a screening of the documentary “A Paean for Yusef,” which was produced by filmmakers John Wise and Bahati Best and which celebrated the life and legacy of Malika’s father, Yusef Iman.
During the question and answer period, a number of delighted guests in the audience shared their experiences of being involved with the strong Black cultural activities going on at that time. Several people in the audience suggested that Malika should continue her book readings throughout the month of March as part of Women’s History Month, particularly given the prominent role of women highlighted and honored in her presentation. Malika expressed her willingness to keep this rich and powerful history alive “by any means necessary.”
The presentation was accompanied by a number of talented musicians which included Rachim Ansar Aru (piano), Shabu Bok Mem (songba drums), Raphael Sanders (djembe drum), Atiba Kwabena-Wilson (flute & djembe) as well as retired Professor from Staten Island Community College, Charles Thomas (piano).
Malika graciously autographed copies of her book for everyone who were obviously inspired and greatly motivated by her excellent and informative presentation.