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afrikan poetry society in jamaica queens ny

Afrikan Poetry Theater in Jamaica

afrikan poetry societyCultural Center In Jamaica Queens

Jamaica Queens / January 20, 2009 / Queens Buzz.  I had the opportunity to visit the Afrikan Poetry Theater on Inauguration Day 2009. I had long been curious to visit the theater, having heard so much about its community cultural programs which include jazz, poetry readings, lectures, discussions and authentic African cuisine.

John Watusi [left] is the Executive Director of the theater and the following story is an introduction to the theater as told by John who is one of its founders.

The theater started in the seventies, in the aftermath of the social unrest, as African Americans sought to re-establish themselves as members of the American community of immigrants. Part of that movement included delving into their ethnic past in an effort to better understand cultural heritage. The mission of the theater is to educate and entertain the Jamaica and Queens community about African Americans' roots. Click here to read more about the Afrikan Poetry Society in Jamaica NY

Afrikan Poetry Theatre - Jamaica NY

Afrikan Poetry Theatre - Obama Inauguration

afrikan poetry theatre jamaica ny queensJanuary 20, 2009 / Jamaica Queens NY / Queens Buzz. Continued. My next stop was the Afrikan Poetry Theater.  My purpose here was two fold: 1) to follow up on the inauguration story and 2) become more familiar with this community organization that has served the community since 1976.  It began, following all the racial turmoil in the sixties, but in the midst of the after math, while racial desegregation was still a very raw topic for most Americans.

The theater has its own story, which will be posted shortly.  The events surrounding the inauguration had been held on Sunday, two days earlier, and approached the Obama presidency from the perspective and lens of Dr. Martin Luther King.  The lectures and film focused on the non-violent social movement that was modeled on Mahatma Ghandi’s overthrow of the British Empire in the forties.

Afrikan Poetry Theatre Jamaica Queens - John Watusi

I had the opportunity to watch the inauguration with the organization’s Executive Director John Watusi.  After which, he gave me a tour of the theater and provided some background on the Afrikan Poetry Theater and its role as a cultural center in the community.  He also provided me with the names of a couple of African style restaurants, so in keeping with the day’s theme, I continued my venture onto Jakk Restaurant in Queens Village which is further east, but adjacent to Jamaica.

Jamaica Queens - Jakk Restaurant On Obama Inauguration

afrikan poetry theater jakk restaurant queens village jamaica nyQueens Village / January 20, 2009. Jakk Restaurant was celebrating the Obama Inauguration with a special dinner for its clientele.  This was a spontaneous visit and they showed me the most gracious hospitality, as I spent the remainder of the afternoon on into the evening sampling many delicious treats from their kitchen.  There will be more on this in a restaurant review which will be posted a bit later this week.

At Jakk they had a big screen television where they had the inauguration day coverage on in the background.  The restaurant owners, managers and clientele were all quite elated and proud that an African American had just become our president. 

Over the course of the past 50 years, America has made great strides toward making this a society that lives by the standard that Dr. King had laid out for us in his ‘I Have A Dream’ speech.  In that speech, he prayed that his four little children would be able to one day “live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."  So by that standard the election of our new president was not just a proud day for all African Americans, but a proud day for all Americans.

Equality and equal opportunity been a part of this nation's charter from the beginning. And it was not lost on the people with whom I spoke today, nor on our new president, nor on me, that while we've come a long, long way, we still have a long, long way to go to evolve into a society that provides everyone with the opportunity to achieve their potential and meaningfully contribute to the improvement of our world.

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