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Kalamu ya Salaam

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Information about Kalamu ya Salaam

Profile image of Kalamu ya Salaam

Profession

Category:
ArtMakers
MusicMakers
Occupation(s):
Poet
Music Critic

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue, Green
Favorite Food:
Red Beans, Rice, Seafood, Beets
Favorite Time of Year:
None
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Barbados
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
3/24/1947
Birth Location:
New Orleans, Louisiana

Profession

Category:
ArtMakers
MusicMakers
Occupation(s):
Poet
Music Critic

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue, Green
Favorite Food:
Red Beans, Rice, Seafood, Beets
Favorite Time of Year:
None
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Barbados
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
3/24/1947
Birth Location:
New Orleans
See how Kalamu ya Salaam is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Poet, editor, music producer and arts administrator, Kalamu ya Salaam was born Val Ferdinand III in New Orleans on March 24, 1947. Inspired by the poetry of Langston Hughes and the civil rights movement in New Orleans, Salaam became interested in writing and organizing for social change. Graduating from high school in 1964, he joined the U.S. Army and served in Korea. After service, Salaam attended Carleton College but returned to New Orleans in 1968 to earn an associate's degree from Delgado College.

During the Black Arts Movement, Salaam was a member of John O'Neal's Free Southern Theater for five years and was a founder of BLACKARTSOUTH. Changing his name along the way to Kalamu Ya Salaam, which is Kiswahili for "pen of peace," he was a founder of Ahidiana Work Study Center. He also assumed the editorship of the Black Collegian magazine, a post he held from 1970 to 1983. Salaam published cultural and political essays in Black World, Black Scholar and Black Books Bulletin. In 1977, he was part of the first African American activist delegation to the People's Republic of China.

Today, he is senior partner of Bright Moments, a public relations firm. He is also the founder of WordBand, a poetry performance group; the NOMMO Literary Society, and Runagate Press. Salaam has written seven books of poetry. His play, "The Breath of Life", was honored by Louisiana State University, and "BLK Love Song #1" won a Best of Fringe Award from The Manchester Evening News in England. A respected music writer and critic, he is the arts and entertainment editor for The New Orleans Tribune and is a regular contributor to Wavelength, The Louisiana Weekly and The New Orleans Music Magazine. He was executive director of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival for many years, and produced "A NATION OF POETS" for the National Black Arts Festival.

Selected Bibliography

Salaam, Kalamu ya. What is Life? Reclaiming the Black Blues Self. Third World Press: Chicago, 1994.

------Tarzan Can - Not Return to Africa But I Can (1996)

------He's The Prettiest: A Tribute to Big Chief Allison "Tootie" Montana's 50 Years of Mardi Gras Indian Suiting. New Orleans: New Orleans Museum of Art, 1997.

------360° A Revolution Of Black Poets. Alexandria, Va.: Black Words; New Orleans: Runagate Press, 1998.

------Magic of Juju: An Appreciation of the Black Arts Movement. Third World Press: Chicago, 1998.

See how Kalamu ya Salaam is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Kalamu ya Salaam's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Kalamu ya Salaam lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Kalamu ya Salaam describes his family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Kalamu ya Salaam describes his parents, Vallery Ferdinand, Jr. and Inola Copelin Ferdinand
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Kalamu ya Salaam describes the sights, smells, and sounds of his childhood
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Kalamu ya Salaam describes his siblings
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Kalamu ya Salaam describes himself as a child
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Kalamu ya Salaam describes New Orleans during the Civil Rights Movement
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Kalamu ya Salaam talks about his involvement with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) as a student at Carlton College in Minnesota
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Kalamu ya Salaam talks about his experience serving in the U.S. Army in Korea
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Kalamu ya Salaam describes creating a safe environment with other black soldiers in Korea
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Kalamu ya Salaam talks about developing a Third World consciousness in Korea, pt. 1
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Kalamu ya Salaam talks about developing a Third World consciousness in Korea, pt. 2
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Kalamu ya Salaam describes the influence of African anti-colonial leader Amilcar Carbal on his ideology
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Kalamu ya Salaam talks about serving in the U.S. Army in El Paso, Texas
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Kalamu ya Salaam talks about the camaraderie that developed among the black soldiers in Korea
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Kalamu ya Salaam talks about being discharged by the U.S. Army in 1968 and joining the Free Southern Theater in New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Kalamu ya Salaam describes his Civil Rights militancy in the late 1960s
  • Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Kalamu ya Salaam talks about his community activism with the Free Southern Theater, Black Collegian magazine, and the Lower Ninth Ward Health Center
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Kalamu ya Salaam describes being part of the first African American delegation to the People's Republic of China in 1977
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Kalamu ya Salaam talks about traveling around Africa, the Caribbean, Central and South America during the 1970s and 1980s in support of anti-colonial liberation movements
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Kalamu ya Salaam talks about co-founding and editing Black Collegian magazine in 1970
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Kalamu ya Salaam talks about the golden age of black magazines in the 1970s
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Kalamu ya Salaam describes his involvement with the Congress of African People in Atlanta, Georgia in 1970
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Kalamu ya Salaam talks about forming the community school and publishing organization, Ahidiana in 1977
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Kalamu ya Salaam describes the ideology behind Black Nationalist Movements in the 1970s
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Kalamu ya Salaam talks about changing his name and aligning with international cultural change movements
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Kalamu ya Salaam reflects on his involvement in various global independence movements as well as his travels to Africa
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Kalamu ya Salaam talks about the global missionary cultural movement's influence in black communities across the world
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Kalamu ya Salaam reflects on lasting changes in the liberation movements of the 1970s
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Kalamu ya Salaam talks about his involvement with the Black Arts Movement
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Kalamu ya Salaam reflects on the rising black prison population
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Kalamu ya Salaam reflects on global capitalism, pt. 1
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Kalamu ya Salaam reflects on global capitalism, pt. 2
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Kalamu ya Salaam describes his writing career
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Kalamu ya Salaam describes his hopes and concerns for the black community