Tag Archives: Kathya Alexander

Black Educators Closing Equity Gaps for African American Students and Teachers

by Kathya Alexander


The academic achievement gap between white and BIPOC students has been well documented. Black and Hispanic students trail their white peers by an average of more than 20 points in math and reading assessments, a difference of about two grade levels. Black males, in general, fare even worse, a situation that has not changed much for the past 40 years. 

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Adefua’s Legacy of African Dance and Culture

by Kathya Alexander


The Odunde Festival is an annual harvest festival that celebrates the fruits of labor of the Yoruba people of Nigeria. The word itself means “New Year,” and Adefua Cultural Education Workshop has been celebrating the event here in Seattle for the past 36 years. The theme this year is Reunion, an opportunity to come together and give thanks for life as the city comes out of COVID-19 restrictions. 

The two-day event begins Friday, Nov. 19, at 6 p.m. with a community dance party at the Rainier Arts Center and continues Saturday, Nov. 20, with an African marketplace that opens at 3 p.m. and culminates with a symposium and performance from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

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All That Jazz: The Life and Legacy of Ernestine Anderson

by Kathya Alexander


Ernestine Anderson was just 16 years old when she announced to her parents that she was going to leave Seattle and go on the road to sing with a big band. She’d only recently moved to the city from Texas and was attending Garfield High School. Two years later, when the Johnny Otis band came to town, she made good on her promise, leaving Seattle in 1946 to eventually live in New York, Switzerland, and other cities throughout Europe during an illustrious six-decade career, during which she recorded more than 30 albums. But, no matter where she lived, her heart always pulled her back to her family and the city she loved. 

Seattle’s Central District in the 1940s and ’50s was a jazz mecca. Fellow Garfield High School alum, Quincy Jones, described it as “screaming around the clock.” Both Anderson and Jones performed with Garfield’s jazz band and in various clubs on Seattle’s Jackson Street. Music journalist Paul De Barros’ book, Jackson Street After Hours: The Roots of Jazz in Seattle, has become the standard historical text on the Central District of Seattle and the jazz scene that was going on during the 1940s through the early ’60s. But Anderson felt she needed to make it elsewhere before she would be recognized professionally at home. 

“There were a lot of clubs in the Central area of Seattle: The Black and Tan, The Rocking Chair, and a whole bunch of other[s],” said Eugenie Jones, jazz singer and coproducer of “Celebrating Ernestine Anderson,” a series of community events being held this month to honor the life and legacy of this incredible Seattle icon, who died in 2016.

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Mama’z Meuzz: The Beauty and Pain of Black Motherhood

by Kathya Alexander


On Friday, Nov. 12, Monique Franklin will take the stage to share a reading of her provocative play Mama’z Muezz. The performance starts at 7 p.m. at Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute. Accompanied by a live four-piece band, Mama’z Meuzz examines the experiences of African American mothers from present-day, historical, and ancestral perspectives. 

Franklin will also share part of Mama’z Muezzeum, an interactive and introspective experience full of artifacts, adornments, and ancestral altars that acknowledge what many consider universal experiences (like conception and birth) that for many mothers are traumatic experiences that involve grief and trauma and that need healing. 

In addition to free tickets, Black women attending the performance who are mothers will get a signed copy of the “Mama’z Muezz” chapbook, a collection of the poems from the play. They will also receive a flower, a magnet, royal seating at the front of the house, and a free digital download of the “Mama’z Muezz” mini album. 

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FICTION: The Murder of Emmett Till

by Kathya Alexander


The day that the modern Civil Rights movement begin was the day when them white men kill Emmett Till. His mama, Mamie, was sitting on the sofa in her little house on the South Side of Chicago when the call come in that would change her life. Her child was missing from her granddaddy’s house. 

It was Willie Mae who called, not Mr. Mose. The white men who took Emmett had told Mose not to report a thing he seen or heard. So it was Curtis Jones who call the Leflore County Sheriff. And then Willie Mae call Mamie at 9:30 that morning to tell her what had happen to her only son.

Willie Mae said some white men had come and took him about 2:30 a.m. that Sunday morning. Mamie was still in the bed and was fast asleep, but what Willie Mae was saying sho’ did wake her up quick.

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‘Reflections’ Dance Festival: A Gift of Indigenous and African American Solidarity

by Kathya Alexander


This year’s “Reflections” Dance Festival was filmed in September, bringing the light and sunshine of the summer into the fall to be shared when we need it most. It is a love letter to our beautiful city written in ceremony, ritual, and dance, giving testament to the ways art can heal and transform us even during our darkest days.

Jordan Remington is a Quileute tribe member and community engagement and programs coordinator of Friends of Waterfront Seattle(Friends). Davida Ingram is the Seattle Public Library’s public engagements program manager. Last year they came together to build Indigenous and Black solidarity through arts and culture. 

Their collaboration created a unique gift to the City of Seattle — Reflections Dance Festival — in partnership with Friends of Waterfront Seattle, Seattle Public Library (SPL), Seattle Art Museum, Seattle Office of Arts & Culture (OAC), and Office of the Waterfront and Civic Projects.

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Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month at the Seattle Latino Film Festival

by Kathya Alexander


The Seattle Latino Film Festival (SLFF) opened for in-person viewing on Friday, Oct. 8, and continues through Sunday, Oct. 17. 

The festivities began last Friday at the Seattle Asian Art Museum with an opening night gala and after party reception. Dennis Mencia, a Honduran American actor known for playing Mateo Villanueva on CW’s Jane the Virgin, was MC for the event. The gala showcased the Uruguayan comedy, The Broken Glass Theory, one of the festival’s 106 in-person and online films supporting the magic of filmmaking as part of Hispanic culture globally. 

The in-person showcase continued at The Beacon Cinema in Columbia City on Saturday with an American film called Coast, directed by Jessica Hester and Derek Schweickart. Also shown was the Venezuelan film, Opposite Direction, and an LGBTQ film called Liz In September. The director, Fina Torres, known for Fox Searchlight’s Woman on Top with Penélope Cruz, was present for the Q&A after the screening. 

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FICTION: Freedom Spring

by Kathya Alexander


The daffodils dance in the front yard like tornadoes. Red roses climb, wild, to the roof of our house. This Mother’s Day is alive with hope and with morning. ‘Cept for the slash that is running cross my Mama mouth. 

She kneading the dough for the biscuits for breakfast. She got the radio on, tune to WOKJ. That’s the radio station where my brother, Quint, is a DJ. They talking ‘bout the Freedom Riders, colored folks and whites riding buses down South from Washington D.C. to New Orleans. All of them is students. My Mama say, “This how these chir’en choose to spend they spring vacation? They ought to be home with they mamas.” Then she whip the dough like it’s the thing made her mad.

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Drew Hobson: Let the Games Begin

by Kathya Alexander


When Drew Hobson got the opportunity to audition for a video game in 2012, he was thrilled. A self-described comic nerd, he was working with a children’s touring company when the theater’s director heard a video game company was having a hard time finding an African American voice for the lead character in a new game. The director immediately thought of Hobson. So Hobson recorded the audition on his home equipment and sent it in. 

“And I got the lead role. And it was amazing ’cause the lead role, where you start out at the first part of the game, and you can play all the way through the game, is African American.” 

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Tyrone Brown: Where Art and Activism Meet

by Kathya Alexander


When COVID-19 was declared a pandemic in March 2020, Tyrone Brown was in Lesotho, an independent country of 2 million people completely surrounded by South Africa. As a volunteer for the Peace Corps, he was teaching English, life skills, and HIV/AIDS prevention to Lesotho elementary school students. But the Peace Corps decided to withdraw all their volunteers worldwide and send them home. 

Born and raised in Seattle, Tyrone Brown, the founder and artistic director of Brownbox Theatre, credits his mother for introducing him to the arts when he was very young. Brown feels Seattle gave him more freedom and exposure to the arts that he wouldn’t have received, especially as a young Black male, had he grown up somewhere else. Still, being involved in the arts in a single-parent family had its challenges.  

“I remember I was in the Northwest Boys Choir for a short period of time. I don’t remember a lot about the experience except for one thing. We had a big concert that was happening in downtown Seattle. And my mom couldn’t get me there. She said, ‘I don’t have money for bus fare. So you’re going to have to call somebody.’ It was a predominately white institution, a group of white boys basically. And I didn’t know those kids, who came from two-parent homes and had money. I was just so embarrassed.”

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