Wonderful News
We've just heard wonderful news. Our oral history project, "The Force of Ethics in Civil Rights"--interviews with unsung pioneers nationwide, is now in the Library of Congress (LOC) Civil Rights division's national database of civil rights repositories and collections! This news came as a complete surprise. Dr. Guha Shankar, Folklife Specialist of the LOC wrote "First, thank you so very much for your work and contribution to maintaining the cultural memory of this country. We are honored to try and make your collections reach a wider audience." He said our "fascinating collection" was brought to his attention in recent years by archivists, librarians, and historians around the country. Here is the beginning of the LOC description of our project:
Civil Rights History Project:
Survey of Collections and Repositories

The Force of Ethics in Civil Rights Oral History Project
Repository: Alliance of Ethics & Art, Inc.
Collection Description (Extant): "Our oral history project, 'The Force of Ethics in Civil Rights,' was begun in 2005, and in October 2013 includes over 200 video interviews and scores of audio interviews conducted by journalist and Aesthetic Realism Associate Alice Bernstein with unsung pioneers nationwide -- men and women of all races who deserve our nation's acknowledgment and gratitude. The purpose of this project is to preserve little known history of the fight for civil rights-in the voices, words, and images of those who helped to make that history, and to meet the urgent need in America to understand the cause and answer to racism, explained by Aesthetic Realism, the education founded by the great philosopher Eli Siegel."
        Then the LOC site lists names of 200 people interviewed in our project, with more to be added; and subjects ranging from AFL-CIO to Voter Registration.
        We're grateful beyond measure to Eli Siegel for the urgent, practical education which informs all our work. He defined history as "shown feeling about the past," and said that every person, past and present, is of history. Further, he taught that wanting to know and be fair to the feelings of people is a way of knowing ourselves!

Force of Ethics Banner with Portraits
Aesthetic Realism can end racism because of Mr. Siegel's understanding of the two desires fighting in every man, woman and child at every moment of our lives: contempt, "The addition to self through the lessening of something else," and respect, wanting to know and be fair to the world and people outside of ourselves. This human fight can be seen in every era of history. The great struggle for civil rights in America was an insistence that people be seen with respect, not contempt. The fact that so many people made that choice for respect, sometimes in the midst of great danger, is evidence of what Mr. Siegel identified as "the force of ethics" working in reality and in people throughout history. In our project we hope to show the power of ethics as real through the lives of the men and women interviewed.
        We thank all the unsung pioneers of civil rights and everyone who has encouraged and supported our project since it began 9 years ago! The website created by the LOC and the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of African American History and Culture will make portions of selected interviews available worldwide. The interviews will become a permanent part of the national library and the national museum.
Link to Library of Congress Civil Rights Collection: The Force of Ethics
in Civil Rights
pdf file

A Broadway Journey against Racism:
Philip Rose & A Raisin in the Sun

Original Production Team for A Raisin in the SunThis year marks the 55th anniversary of Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun, which debuted on Broadway March 11, 1959 at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre. Ms. Hansberry, then 28, broke new ground by giving dramatic form to the hardships and yearnings of a struggling black family, the Youngers, living in a segregated Chicago neighborhood. She drew from her own family's experience of racism in the '30s-'40s, though unlike the Youngers, her parents had the means to move to a white neighborhood. Meanwhile, once there, they were viciously attacked. Refusing to leave, the Hansberrys filed suit to stay put. Their case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled against relocation, but the city ignored the ruling--a common occurrence in those years--thus, in effect, they were forced to move. (continued, col. 2)
(above photo, l-r) Richard Cogan (co-producer), Lorraine Hansberry, Lloyd Richards (director), Philip Rose, Sidney Poitier

Inge Hardison, Inge Hardison
the American sculptor, actor, and photographer, celebrated her 100th birthday on February 3, 2014. Our story about her was first published by International Review of African American Art Plus. Her life and work embrace much of American history. She is best known for a series of bronze busts, begun in 1963, of African Americans who fought slavery and led the struggle for civil rights. As I considered how to be fair to her long, productive life, I thought of these sentences from "Aesthetic Realism and Expression," a lecture by Eli Siegel: "Whenever we do something, we show what we are and also what we want.... [I]n the same way as it is necessary sometimes to stir things to do a better job of cooking, so it is necessary to have ourselves stirred--because we have to be impressed before we can express ourselves."
Inge Hardison is shown with her bust of Sojourner Truth.
Photo attributed to Manu Sassoonian