Happy Birthday Astro Black

Sun Ra (May 22, 1914 – May 30, 1993)

Sun Ra came from the planet Saturn and landed in Birmingham, Alabama, where, by the age of eleven, he was already demonstrating his prodigious skills as a pianist and composer. In Birmingham he also encountered Fletcher Henderson, Duke Ellington, Fats Waller and other musical greats who came to the city on tour. They influenced his musical development, while he influenced a generation of musicians who emerged during the swing and bebop eras. Sun Ra’s massive contributions to jazz include pioneering the use of the electric piano, the Moog synthesizer, and the electric bass. He also recorded over 200 albums, some of which were released on his own independent label.

In honor of Sonny’s Earth-day (the actual date of which remained a mystery throughout most of his life) I’ve posted below “Space is the Place,” a full-length film that features the music and cosmology of Sun Ra and his Arkestra. Upon its release it became an instant cult classic to legions of his fans across the globe.



Sun Ra Quotes:

“My name’s always been Sun, my mama called me son.”

“I’m not a prophet. I’m a destiny-changer. It’s all right to prophesy, but the best thing to do is change things, if you’ve got the power.”

“If death is the absence of life, then death’s death is life.”

“Space is not only high, it’s low. It’s a bottomless pit.”

“I’m sittin in front of the White House, and I’m lookin across the street,
and I don’t see the Black House.”

“What I’m dealing with is so vast and so great that it can’t be called the truth. It’s above the truth.”

“I’m playing dark history. It’s beyond black. I’m dealing with the dark things of the cosmos.”

“It’s AFTER the end of the world. Don’t you know that yet?”


Click here for the official site of the Sun Ra Arkestra.

Click here for the complete Sun Ra Discography.

Here’s a link to the Wiki page for Sun Ra.

And check out this article by Mike Welsh for more information about the genius known as Sun Ra.


Jan Carew on Native and Black Resistance in the Americas

In this excerpt from a 1992 lecture, Professor Jan Carew discusses the little-known history of the Seminole Wars and the heroic struggles of Amerindians, Africans, and Black Indians for freedom. He situates his comments within the broader history of the Columbian era and the Spanish discovery and colonization of the so-called New World.



“Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever”

Following his election to the Alabama Governor’s Office in 1963, George Wallace proclaimed in his inauguration speech delivered on January 14, 1964: “Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.”

Governor Wallace, it seems, was something of a prophet. Recent analysis done on the American Community Survey (ACS), which is an ongoing data gathering effort of the U.S. Census Bureau, shows that little has changed in the United States in terms of “racial” segregation in the past forty years. ACS data covering the period 2005 – 2009 include these key findings:

  • In a country that is only 12.1 percent African-American, 30 percent of African-Americans live in Census Block Groups that are 75 percent African-American or more.
  • 75 percent of African-Americans in the country live in only 16 percent of the Census Block Groups in the United States.
  • 50 percent of African-Americans live in Census Block Groups that have a combined African-American and Latino population of 66.85 percent or more (nationally, the Latino population is approximately 15.8 percent, so the combined African-American and Latino population is just shy of only 28 percent).

The concentration of blacks and Latinos in certain residential areas, which is a result of poverty and long-term and seemingly intractable problems of housing discrimination, negatively impacts access to employment, education, and finance. It also produces the conditions for over-policing and the ghetto to prison pipeline that feeds black and Latinos directly into the Prison Industrial Complex.

The Remapping Debate website, which is sponsored by the Anti-Discrimination Center (ADC), contains an article from which the above findings were drawn and mapping tools that enable users to examine in remarkable detail patterns of segregation nationwide. Click the following link to access the article and related materials: “Mapping and analysis of new data documents still-segregated America.”