October 7, 2008

M.K. Asante Jr. ’04 Films ‘The Black Candle,’ Publishes Third Book

Documentary on Kwanzaa will be screened in U.S. and Africa

Author and filmmaker M.K. Asante ’04 has created the documentary The Black Candle, which uses Kwanzaa as a vehicle to explore and celebrate the African-American experience. It traces the holiday’s growth out of the Black Power movement in the 1960s to the present global, pan-African holiday embraced by over 40 million celebrants.

Filmed across the United States, Africa, Europe, and the Caribbean, the movie is narrated by Maya Angelou and scored by Nnenna Freelon and Derrick Hodge. Ben Haaz ’03 worked as a producer on the project, which also involved Kwanzaa founder Maulana Karenga, Amiri Baraka, and hip-hop artists and activists Chuck D and Screenings start this month and are scheduled in locations from New York to California to Kenya. The DVD is on sale through the film’s web site.

Asante’s third book, It’s Bigger than Hip-Hop, was released in September by St. Martin’s Press. The book “uses hip hop as a springboard for a larger discussion about the urgent social and political issues affecting the post hip hop generation; a new wave of youth searching for an understanding of themselves outside the self-destructive corporate hip hop monopoly. Through insightful anecdotes, scholarship, personal encounters, and conversations with youth across the globe as well as with icons such as Chuck D and Maya Angelou, Asante illuminates a shift that can be felt in the crowded spoken-word joints in post-Katrina New Orleans, [and] seen in the rise of youth-led organizations committed to social justice…”

The Los Angeles Times calls it “an empowering book that moves you to action and to question status quo America. Reading It’s Bigger Than Hip Hop is motoring through a new generation of America with one of its best storytellers.” Says Chuck D, “M.K. Asante Jr. combines drive, skill and a commitment that buoys us all. The hip hop community should feel extremely blessed to have those qualities attached to its forward movement.”

Asante wrote and produced the documentary 500 Years Later, winner of Best Documentary at the Pan-African Film Festival and the Bridgetown Film Festival; Best Film at the International Black Cinema Film Festival; and Best International Documentary at the Harlem International Film Festival. The film also won the Breaking the Chains Award from UNESCO

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