What is Radical Citizenship?

Brian Lewis at African Burial Ground National Monument

Mon, Feb 10 at 7:30 p.m.   |   75 minutes   |   No drinks
Olio: A stand-alone class on a miscellaneous topic with time to drink and chat.

Join Brian Lewis as we discover the 9/11 inspired poetry of NYC author/activist, Sekou Sundiata, and tour the African Burial Grounds as part of the Think Olio x National Parks Series. We'll discuss the notion of 'A Thin Place', where past meets present and the idea of radical citizenship.

“I follow horse trails through secret pathways indigenous ghost caves and African Burial Grounds . . . the Untouchables and Enchanters doo wop and doo-rag in a spot of starlight like they don’t know they’re dead as if to say See that star, see that light? This is what we always wanted to be.” -Sekou Sundiata (The 51st Dream State) When describing why he was drawn to the World Trade Center/African Burial ground post 9/11, iconic and posthumous Black Arts Movement poet Sekou Sundiata conjured the notion of Irish/Celtic “thin spaces.” He referenced this term to embody what he perceived to be the magnitude and magical surrealist power of this space. For Sundiata, “thin places” are spaces where the past, present and future collide. They are sacred and mysterious spaces where there has been considerable trauma or something of extraordinary significance has taken place. They are places where the dead and living convene in a kind of infinite dance of energy, love and power. For so many obvious reasons, the language and imagery of this concept lends itself well to the African Burial ground and World Trade Center site. In the last year of his life, Sundiata, a native New Yorker and self-described product of the radical movements of the 60s, sought to re-imagine, re-create and re-establish complex understandings of his identity and role in what he considered a deeply problematic and emboldened “American Empire” in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks and the proceeding War on Terror. For these reasons, Sundiata came to hone in and focus consistently on the African Burial ground/World Trade Center site, which was featured prominently in his poems and interdisciplinary art work. In honor of Sundiata’s life, art work and legacy, the African and indigenous people as well as all the victims of 9/11 who perished at this site, this Olio will feature readings, performance, writing, critical dialogue, discussion and perhaps most importantly community building, all centered on the premise and understanding of the African Burial ground as a “thin place”. The public will be invited to gather, be introspective, think critically and go beyond pervasive labels and assumptions as Sundiata would have had us do, to dare to think radically about how the history, experiences, narratives, and energy of the African Burial ground can inform our current understandings of our world. *This Olio is free to the public! Attendees still need to rsvp to be included on the guest list.
Teacher: Brian Lewis

Brian Lewis teaches courses on the Black Arts Movement and Art Making and Civic Engagement at the New School. He is the director of programs and education at Exalt, an equitable future for court-involved youth.

Venue: African Burial Ground National Monument

290 Broadway 1st Floor New York, NY 10007

African Burial Ground is the oldest and largest known excavated burial ground in North America for both free and enslaved Africans. It protects the historic role slavery played in building New York


*This Olio is free to the public! Attendees still need to rsvp to be included on the guest list.

What is Think Olio?

Think Olio is here to put the liberation back into the liberal arts.

Classically, the liberal arts, were the education considered essential for a free person to take an active part in civic life. To counter a humanities that has been institutionalized and dehumanized we infuse critical thinking, openness, playfulness, and compassion into our learning experience.

Read more about our mission, our story, and how we are doing this.

Scenius Membership

If Friday night lectures, museum field trips, and living room salons sound like your kind of thing, then you've found your people. We can't wait to welcome you to the Think Olio Scenius. More info

Other Upcoming Olios

Counseling in Isolation

Location: at Online

Teacher: Patricia Kim

April 2, 2020, 7 p.m.

Everything Fragile Breaks: Finding Meaning in Black Swan Events

Location: at Online

Teacher: Michael Prettyman

April 4, 2020, 7:30 p.m.

Documentary Club | For Sama

Location: at Online

Teacher: Member-Led

April 4, 2020, 4:30 p.m.

The World Before Germs

Location: at Online

Teacher: Jamie Warren

April 7, 2020, 7:30 p.m.

Book Club | Understanding the Green New Deal

Location: at Online

Teacher: Member-Led

April 8, 2020, 6:30 p.m.

But How Are We Going To Pay For it? Modern Monetary Theory and the Public Purse

Location: at Online

Teacher: Andres Bernal

April 10, 2020, 7 p.m.

The Great Depression and the New Deal: A Two-Part Olio Series

Location: at Online

Teacher: Lawrence Cappello

April 12, 2020, 7 p.m.

Taoism and Self-Care

Location: at Online

Teacher: Darryl Aiken-Afam

April 16, 2020, 7:30 p.m.

Book Club | Contagion

Location: at Online

Teacher: Member-Led

April 19, 2020, 3 p.m.

Thomas Paine & the Roots of American Progressivism

Location: at Online

Teacher: Michael Crowder

April 21, 2020, 7:30 p.m.

Stay in Touch

Instagram Mailing List Contact

Get Involved

Liaisons Host an Olio

Olio: A miscellaneous collection of art and literature.