Anna Deavere Smith

Anna Deavere Smith is the play writer of “Let me Down Easy” she is a dramatist, actress and professor. She interviews people about social justice and uses their exact words and phrasing into her plays. She also includes herself in her work.

Anna’s style of writing is different from many other authors.  In the following video, Anna tries to bring out a person’s true character by impersonating their pitch, emotions, and pauses—their own unique language.  As she said at approximately 1:14, she doesn’t put parts of herself in the play, but tries to become the person she is interviewing by bringing out their features through their personal language.  “Let me Down Easy” questions the reader to think about if our society is caring.  She tries to find this out by putting herself in her interviewee’s shoes


The Westboro Baptist Church and the Ku Klux Klan

The Westboro Baptist Church is a radical church group that is known for its extreme hatred towards the homosexual community. The church has also come under some fire because they have been seen picketing at funerals of fallen soldiers. They say they were protesting the soldier’s funerals because our government supports homosexuals and our military represents our government.

Now, at a soldier’s funeral where the church was protesting, a leader of the Ku Klux Klan was one of many who started protesting in disgust of the Westboro Baptist Church’s ways. The Klan may not be accepting of the homosexual community, but they join the rest of the world in the belief that our fallen soldiers should be honored, not disgraced.

King Cotton

King Cotton was a slogan used by southerners to support secession from the union by claiming that cotton exports would make a self-governing Confederacy flourish economically.   The slogan was effective: by February 1861, the seven states whose economies were based on cotton plantations had all seceded and formed the Confederacy.  Cotton had been so important to the south in fact, that with this cotton boom, the demand for labor (and cheap labor) had skyrocketed, and thus, slavery.  According to “there were approximately 650,000 slaves in the southern states, many working on rice, tobacco, and indigo plantations. By 1850, there were 3.2 million slaves of whom 1.8 million were used to cultivate cotton.”  One can see that as cotton began to become a major cash crop, the number of slaves in the south boomed.  One can argue that this cash crop promoted slavery, as almost 2 million slaves were picking cotton by 1850.  This cotton ultimately led to the demise of the confederacy as well.  During the civil war, the union blockaded the confederacy and prevented them from selling their cotton, which slowly and surely strangled the South’s economy to a grinding halt, and the Confederacy used all available resources they had until they finally ran out and the union won the war. It is hard to believe that one export can have such a major impact on American history.



From Domestic Violence to Eviction

In October of 2009, Kathy Cleaves-Milan was told that she was being evicted from her apartment as she was preparing a check to pay her rent.  The story only gets worse when she revealed to the leasing agent that she needed an order of protection against her boyfriend who had been helping her pay, but was kicked out due to a zero-tolerance policy for “criminal activity.”  Cleaves-Milan reported that she was twice thrown against the wall as well as threatened with a gun.  A spokeswoman for Aimco, (one of the largest owners and operators of apartment communities in the United States) Cindy Duffy said, “As the safety of our residents is our top priority, we have a zero-tolerance policy for any criminal activity at our communities.”  Duffy also claimed she left her apartment that day because she could not afford to stay when her rent was due.  However, Cleaves-Milan responded to Duffy with, “My reason for being evicted was there was gun violence in my home.”  When the issue arrived in court, Cleaves-Milan’s attorney Kate Walz argued, “She did everything right.”

After winning the case, Cleaves-Milan said that the whole incident still affects her family today.  In 2010, the Illinois Human Rights Act prohibited discrimination against a person who has obtained an order of protection.

click here for article.

The historical event of John Brown’s raid at Harper’s Fairy was an extremely important part of the Civil War and history itself. John Brown’s raid was one of the first rebellions lead by slaves that caused an impact on the country. John Brown’s intentions were to start a new form of government in which everyone was equal. His raid was the first step in doing so. During the rebellion, there were casualties and injuries to both civilians, soldiers, and slaves. John Brown was eventually captured, tried, and found guilty. He was hung as a result.

Cave Canem

Cave Canem is a home for the many voices of African poetry, and they are dedicated to the growth and development of African American poets. Cave Canem is latin for “Beware of the Dog”, and their symbol that can be traced back to house of the tragic poet in  Pompeii. The symbol is supposed to represent protection for poets while releasing new poetic voices into the world. Toi Derricote and Cornelius Eady founded it in 1996, and it is based in Brooklyn, New York.  Some of their other poets include Claudia Rankine and Natasha Trethewey.  They give out an annual award called the Cave Canem Poetry Prize.  This is awarded to the first book of an author, and it is dedicated to the finding of exceptional writings by an African American author.  The past winner was Spit Back a Boy by Iain Haley Pollock.  There is also the Cave Canem Northwestern University Press Poetry Prize, and it is offered every other year.  This is awarded to the second book by an author.  The award celebrates literature that displays long lasting cultural value and literary excellence. The last winner was Through the Stonecutter’s Window by Indigo Moor.

For more information click here.