Secret Colors Revisited: A Dialogue on Race & the Arts
Alexs Pate in conversation with David Mura
Friday, July 10, 7 p.m.
Unless otherwise noted, all events have a $5–10 suggested admission, are open to the public, and take place at The Loft Literary Center at Open Book, 1011 Washington Avenue South, Minneapolis.
Writers Alexs Pate and David Mura are long time collaborators who have written fifteen books between them, in multiple genres, all examining the issues of race and African American and Asian American identity respectively. This conversation will explore their work as Minnesota writers of color; the creative writing workshop they co-teach, “Writing on Race;” the relationship between their communities; and other current issues regarding race and the arts. They will also discuss Pate’s work on the Innocent Classroom, a program designed to address the racial achievement gap in education by training teachers to improve their relationships with students of color.
Over twenty years ago, Alexs Pate and David Mura created a performance piece, “Secret Colors,” in response to the video of the Rodney King beating and the violence in L.A. following the ruling that found the police innocent of any wrong doing. Their piece explored the issues arising out of those events, and, in light of the interracial tensions in L.A., the relationships between the African American and Asian American communities. This conversation enables these two to explore the issues of that piece and their PBS film, Slowly This, in light of the events of the past year, including the Black Lives Matter and Million Artists movements.
Alexs D. Pate is the author of five novels including the New York Times Bestseller Amistad, commissioned by Steven Spielberg’s Dreamworks/SKG and based on the screenplay by David Franzoni. His novel Losing Absalom was awarded Best First Novel by the Black Caucus of the American Library Association and a Minnesota Book Award for best fiction. Finding Makeba was listed as one of the five novels every black woman should have on her bookshelf by Essence Magazine. His novel West of Rehoboth was selected as an “Honor Fiction Book” for 2002 by the Black Caucus of the American Library Association. His novel The Multicultiboho Sideshow explores the themes of race and the arts in Minnesota and also won a Minnesota Book Award. Pate’s In the Heart of the Beat: The Poetry of Rap investigates the literary history and the quality of rap as a poetic expression (Scarecrow Press, 2010). In 2002 in USA Today, National Book Award novelist Charles Johnson chose Pate as an “Achiever Who Will Lead The Next Generation” in the area of literature. He is the founder of The Innocent Classroom, a program designed to address the racial achievement gap in education by training educators to improve their relationships with students of color. Pate was the curator of the Givens Foundation NOMO series of interviews with black writers. He is co-editor of the anthology, Blues Vision: African American Writing from Minnesota.
David Mura is a poet, creative nonfiction writer, fiction writer, critic, playwright, and performance artist. Mura has written two memoirs: Turning Japanese: Memoirs of a Sansei, which won a 1991 Josephine Miles Book Award from the Oakland PEN and was listed in the New York Times Notable Books of Year, and Where the Body Meets Memory: An Odyssey of Race, Sexuality and Identity (1996). His novel Famous Suicides of the Japanese Empire (2008), was a finalist for the John Gardner Fiction Prize and Virginia Commonwealth University Cabell First Novelist Award. Mura’s newest poetry collection is The Last Incantations. His second, The Colors of Desire (1995), won the Carl Sandburg Literary Award. His first, After We Lost Our Way won the 1989 National Poetry Series Contest. His book of literary criticism is Song for Uncle Tom, Tonto & Mr. Moto: Poetry & Identity in the University of Michigan’s Poets on Poetry series. In 1993, Mura and African American writer Alexs Pate created a multi-media performance piece, Secret Colors, about their lives as men of color and Asian American-African American relations. A film adaptation of this piece, Slowly This, was broadcast in the PBS series ALIVE TV in July/August 1995. Mura was featured with Lucille Clifton in the Bill Moyers PBS series, The Language of Life.
Incorporated in 1975, The Loft Literary Center is one of the nation’s leading independent literary centers. The Loft advances the artistic development of writers, fosters a thriving literary community, and inspires a passion for literature.