Category Archives: Arts of Africa and African Diaspora

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Updated Blog Theme

Almost one year to date since my last post. A lot can happen in a couple years time, since my academic focus as on the title of the blog.  It’s still a part of me very much and a part of my progression into new culture studies~ a cultural aspect of my own blood.  

  For now, I’m keeping the name, Arts of Africa and African Diaspora. The scope will change and subject broaden. My intention is to blog about my experiences and insights into what I’ve done over the last couple years, happenings around me in the present, and where this leads to; as of present I haven’t a mentor or teacher as I usually do, thus entering independent studies. 

What I have to offer is more intimate and focused on my family’s town south of Sidon and culture of the South. Less scholarly and more journalistic, some documentary some commentary- still some about ‘arts of Africa and African diaspora’. I am interested to see how this unfolds as I continue to blog and the diasporas intersect. . 
Peace ~Leila
Photo of me with 1st and 2nd cousins~ loves of my life, have been away from them for 10 months now and still remember them each night before bed. , South Lebanon, 2016 

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Final Update: Culture and Resistance: Civil Rights Photography – Memphis 1968

As a conclusion to the three year project researching and exhibiting my photographic essay, the completed exhibition, thesis paper and didactic panels, minus three photographic prints, are now in the permanent collection of the Special Collections at University of Memphis.  One of the two prints not included in the donation is now housed in the Workers Interfaith Network office in Memphis, TN and the other two were given to the family of the now deceased Mr. Lyles Caldwell, a sanitation worker during the 1968 strike.

Additionally, a facsimile of the photographic essay and exhibition has been accepted into the permanent collection of the Human Rights Education Institute in Couer d’Alene, Idaho.

Link to the Special Collections at University of Memphis: http://www.memphis.edu/libraries/special-collections/index.php

Link to the Human Rights Education Institute: http://hrei.org/other-info/event-images/

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Celebrating Black History Month: C. H. Nash Museum at Chucalissa

I am honored and pleased to have exhibited at C.H. Nash Museum at Chucalissa in Memphis as part of the 5th annual Black History Month celebration this past February.

For more information see: http://www.memphis.edu/chucalissa/

And to learn more about the African American cultural heritage work of the museum see: http://southwestmemphis.com/

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Matt Herron: Civil Rights Activist and Documentarian 

Matt Herron teared up as I led him on a tour of the National Civil Rights Musuem and of his photographs, which were prominently used throughout the recent 28 million dollar renovation. He was so sincere, kind, humble and moved. True beauty





More information: Matt Herron Take Stock Photos

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Let’s Talk! About Civil Rights

An open community story telling event at Caritas Village in Memphis, TN organized by L. Hamdan

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Commercial Appeal review of the event by Thomas Bailey Jr. Posted January 10, 2015

An open invitation to share civil rights stories not only packed Caritas Village late Saturday afternoon, it drew a who’s who of Memphis dissenters, street protesters and justice seekers.
About 75 people nearly filled the Binghamton restaurant for the “Civil Rights Story Telling’’ event.
The stories and storytellers spanned five decades, encompassing everything from the now-revered 1968 sanitation workers’ strike to the current “We Can’t Breathe” movement for police reform.
Sprinkled among the audience were T-shirts like “#Film The Police” and “Free The Jena 6.’’
The audience represented an array of causes: the Memphis Bus Riders Union, the Memphis Center for Independent Living, rights for the homeless, raising the minimum wage, criminal justice reform, racial justice, race issues at Rhodes College and more.
Leila Hamdan, who recently earned a master’s at the University of Memphis by “reinvestigating” the story of the civil rights movement surrounding the sanitation strike, said she organized Saturday’s event.
She wanted to add a community discussion to the more formal parts of her thesis work that have included a photo exhibition, paper and formal presentations.
“This was something I really wanted to have,” she said. “Not me talking, but to hear about other people.”
Some of the people Hamdan and others heard were the children of a 1968 sanitation worker who did not strike, but who suffered just the same.
In her research of old Memphis Press Scimitar photographs from the era, Hamdan found a photo of the late sanitation worker Lyles Caldwell. The image shows him holding a rock that someone had thrown threw a window of his home.
“I happened to be home that afternoon,” Caldwell’s daughter, Annie Cast, told the crowd. She was 17 in 1968. “My father had already said, ‘It’s getting kind of dangerous out here … But you know I need to work’.’’
“A big ‘ol rock came through the window. It broke the whole window.’’
Other speakers included a current Rhodes College student, Schaeffer Mallory, who told of problems on campus with students voicing “homophobic, misogynist, (classism) and some particularly racist things” through an anonymous social media app called Yik Yak.
Mallory sat across the table from Coby Smith. He was one of the first black students to attend Rhodes College and one of the founders of the civil rights-era, black-power group called The Memphis Invaders.
Smith expressed pride in Mallory and other young activists in the room.
“These are the new Invaders, these are our kids,” Smith said. “And they give me a lot of satisfaction … I didn’t think about it at the time, but we sowed a lot of seeds.”
Paul Garner, a full-time organizer with the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center, said he was honored to be in the company of fellow activists, organizers and community members.
Hamdan’s photo exhibit at Caritas Village, “Culture and Resistance: Civil Rights Photography, Memphis 1968,” is scheduled to close after Sunday.

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Images of Culture Pt. 2

A mural tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as well as the University of Memphis Tigers on south Third Street in Memphis, TN.

The face of King is distorted with very simple lettering “Dr. King” on the side. Starting with the back of his head, the severe melting and feathering patterns helps to reason why the face is so distorted. Perhaps this image is of the moment the bullet struck Dr. King’s head. 

The white color that encircles and invades the space of the portrait can be seen as a representation of his legacy partially consumed by whiteness and whitewashed.

Although, the style and composition could just be a product of an untrained artist, a person who felt inspired to paint a visual reminder of one of the world’s most profound leaders.

The strong, contrasted black on white image pulled me in to the parking lot, empty except for all the loose relics and refuse of life.

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Ferguson

Memphis, TN November 25, 2014 – One day after the Grand Jury decision not to indict Officer Wilson for the killing of Michael Brown, an unarmed teen who was shot multiple times with his hands in the air.

#blacklivesmatter   #shutitdown  #nojusticenopeace  #ferguson  #michaelbrown

Black lives matter, All lives matter in Memphis

Black lives matter, All lives matter in Memphis

Augustus Washington and John Brown - Hand in Hand

Augustus Washington and John Brown – Hand in Hand

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Preserving Family History: Photography

Wednesday, October 29, 2014 from 1 – 3PM

Presentation by Leila Hamdan at the Memphis & Shelby County Room at the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library on preserving family history with photographs and accompanying documentation, as well as, investigating how these family archives can aid historians, scholars, and artists with interpreting history and challenging dominant narratives and collective memories.

Elmyra Williams born in Memphis, TN 1909

Elmyra Williams born in Memphis, TN 1909

Elmyra Williams with young female students of South Jackson High School in Memphis, TN.  Graduation 1922

Elmyra Williams with young female students of South Jackson High School in Memphis, TN. Graduation 1922

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Images of Culture

I drive by these two buildings every day – cemented and bricked on Vance Avenue in Memphis, TN, between R. S. Lewis and Sons Funeral Home and where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s first memorial service was held, April 5, 1968.  The combined images visually represent the transformative and flexible nature of culture and history in Memphis – temporary and adaptable over time.

Images of Culture

Images of Culture

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