When a definitive history of the Black Nationalist movement is written, no doubt Detroit will loom large. The stories of the Nation of Islam, Malcolm X and the Republic of New Africa, for instance, all weave through the streets of Motown.
In celebration of Black History Month, the Shrine of the Black Madonna, itself part of that history-to-be-written, presents the U.S. premiere of the film Architects of Black Power: Rev. and Stokely Speak Again.
The documentary features footage of Carmichael, later known as Kwame Ture. It was he, a founder of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), who first popularized the phrase “black power,” and changed the course of the civil rights era. During a 1967 tour of France and Sweden, captured in the film, the outspoken activist openly attacks U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War as racist and imperialistic.
Ture subsequently served as an official in the Black Panther Party and later became a proponent of Pan-Africanism.
Cleage — later known as Jaramogi Abebe Agyman — is the “Rev.” of the film’s title and founder of Detroit’s politically powerful Shrine of the Black Madonna and the Pan-African Orthodox Christian Church.
The film follows his evolution from civil rights activist to a proponent of black Christian nationalism. It includes an interview with Cleage and footage of his pivotal 1967 sermon, “A Black Power Christmas.”
Architects incorporates rarely seen footage of the July 1967 Detroit riots, including street interviews, scenes of tense police confrontations and smoldering ruins. It also gives viewers a glimpse of activist James Boggs (the late husband of Grace Lee Boggs) and Glanton Dowdell (the artist who painted the Shrine’s famous 18-foot mural of a black Madonna and child).
Monday, Feb. 21, 7-8:30 p.m., at the Akwaaba Community Center, 8045 Second Ave., Detroit; 313-871-2428. Eve Doster is the listings editor for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected]