Thank You, Mario!

Wow. Thank you so much, Drexel University, for the terrific article. The photos bring back a flood of memories, and I hope my tips are helpful to current Fulbright applicants.

Two stills from my scenes in the Hoichoi streaming series Manbhanjan directed by Abhijit Chowdhury, starring Anirban Bhattacharya and Sohini Sarkar.
Mario the Dragon, Drexel University’s mascot.

Oscars 2023

Join us this Sunday when several of us will be leading informal discussions (“adda”) at our online IFC (Independent Film Circle) session on Zoom about some of this year’s Oscar contenders. For some reason, I was asked to share my thoughts on RRR 🙄 and I can’t wait.

Sunday, Feb 26 at 10:00am EST/7:00am PST/ 8:30pm IST. No cost to attend but we do ask that you register so we know who’s logging on and how many to expect. If you’re interested please email me at js @ brain – on – fire . com .

Forgotten Founding Fathers

LOVE this article from WHYY Philadelphia about the New Freedom Theatre’s play Forgotten Founding Fathers, a rap and hip-hop performance about the US’ unsung Black heroes, and the recent meeting between the great-grandsons of Frederick Douglass and John Brown organized by the theatre. I was amazed to learn that when Brown was famously hanged for treason he was wearing a pocket watch Douglass had given him. Brown’s great-grandson recently returned the heirloom to Douglass’ great-grandson.

Douglass refused to finance or participate in John Brown’s raid, which was intended to spark an armed slave revolution, but later celebrated Brown as a martyr and said Brown’s attack had been a “thunder clap” to awaken Americans to the fact that the time for compromises was gone, and that it was time to take up arms (meaning join the Union army) to end slavery. Henry David Thoreau was also an ardent defender of John Brown.

One thing not mentioned in the article, and I daresay I’m the first to make the direct connection through my own archival research in India, is that Brown and Douglass and people whom they inspired would, decades later, serve as direct inspirations to armed Indian revolutionaries fighting the British Raj in Calcutta starting in 1908.

If you want a glimpse of that history and the John Brown connection, it’s in my critical commentary in the latest issue of peer-reviewed academic journal Democratic Communiqué at https://scholarworks.umass.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1196&context=democratic-communique .

It’s only one slice of a much larger story I’ve written. I’m not condoning or condemning revolutionary violence. We all have our positions on that, usually on a case-by-case basis. I’m eager to shine a light on this history. More to come.

PS – there are a couple of minor errors in the WHYY article; it’s Crispus Attucks, not Crispin, and Brown was executed in 1859, not 1857.