About this episode:
In the final installment of Harlem on My Mind, Trymaine Lee learns about the legacy of playwright Abram Hill, who used his work to center Black characters, Black audiences, and Black communities unapologetically.
Abram Hill co-founded the American Negro Theater in 1940, operating a small 150-seat theater from the basement of Harlem’s Schomburg Center. The American Negro Theater, also known as the ANT, would become a launch pad for stars like Harry Belafonte and Sidney Poitier, even as Hill’s name was largely lost to history.
Trymaine tours the Schomburg Center with chief of staff Kevin Matthews, and sits down with Dr. Koritha Mitchell, an associate English professor at Ohio State University, to better understand Abram Hill and the ANT’s rise and fall.
And we learn about the legacy Hill leaves behind. In the 1960s, the New Heritage Theater Group grew from the foundation of the ANT and has been going strong since. Voza Rivers is the group’s executive producer. Trymaine talks with him, as well as actor Anthony Goss, who appeared in a 2017 re-production of Hill’s hit play On Strivers’ Row. Rivers and Goss, two men forty years apart, describe how Hill’s commitment to community continues to resonate across generations.
We also hear from Abram Hill, in his own words, thanks to audio recordings from Schomburg Center archives and the Hatch Billops Estate, as well as the Works Progress Administration Oral History collection at George Mason University Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center.
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Find the transcript here.
- Harlem on My Mind: Jacob Lawrence
- Harlem on My Mind: Arturo Schomburg
- Harlem on My Mind: Jessie Redmon Fauset