Afro-German program starts tonight

By Patrick Hoff

Beginning Wednesday night, Afro-German culture and activism will come to the University of Massachusetts in a two-night event celebrating influential figures in the Afro-German movement of the 1980s.

Wednesday’s program, starting at 4 p.m. in 301 Herter Hall, will feature a reading by Ika Hugel-Marshall from her autobiography “Invisible Woman: Growing Up Black in Germany,” which, “details her childhood, her search for her African-American father and her close friendship with (Audre) Lorde., according to a press release.

Audre Lorde was a lesbian African-American poet who helped to spark the Afro-German movement three decades ago. Her writings also helped to inspire and define many different movements in 1970s and 80s America, such as the feminist, African-American and lesbian movements.

Hugel-Marshall also co-authored the documentary “Audre Lorde: The Berlin Years 1984 to 1992,” which will be shown tomorrow in 231 Herter Hall at 7:30 p.m.

The film details Lorde’s time as a visiting professor in Germany during a time of turmoil in Eastern Europe and the ways in which she influenced German culture and politics, including the Afro-German movement.

Following the screening, director and producer Dagmar Schulz will be available for a question and answer session.

The film “Hope In My Heart: The May Ayim Story” will also be shown Thursday night.

“Hope In My Heart: The May Ayim Story” tells the story of reunification of East and West Germany from the perspective of a young black woman. It follows the life of Ayim until her death in 1996.

Ayim, the founder of the Black German Movement, confronted the prejudices of the white German population though poetry and also co-edited the book “Showing Our Colors: Afro-German Women Speak Out,” which was published by the University of Massachusetts Press in 1991.

According to a press release, the W.E.B. Du Bois department of Afro-American studies and the programs in German and Scandinavian studies, social thought and political economy, and women, gender, sexuality studies, as well as the Stonewall Center sponsored the programs.

All programs during this event are free and open to the public.

Patrick Hoff can be reached at [email protected]