IN THE WEEDS
Albums Recorded at The East, Brooklyn
In 1967, as raucus physical and political battles raged right outside the window, a New York City public school teacher spoke passionately about the importance of self-education and self-determination to his fellow teachers. Said Jitu Weusi:
“Our fight for community control [of our schools] is a fight for the self-determination of black people, for our right to speak for ourselves and to be responsible for our own successes and failures. It is a war against domestic colonialism.”
The effort to build an independent, black-centered, community-controlled school in Ocean Hill was violently suppressed. By 1969, Weusi had departed from the New York City Department of Education to form The East, a community ecosystem established to support black cultural life and wellness in Bedford-Stuyvesant. Incorporating a co-operative grocery store, a private pan-African school, adult education programs, a bookstore, a restaurant, and a clothing cooperative, The East was a “by us, for us” total life platform.
The East was a hub of black expressive culture. It hosted concerts by Max Roach, Sun Ra, Sonny Rollins, Pharoah Sanders, and many others, and also modeled an economics of self-determination, inspiring musicians to produce and publish their own recordings.
Albums recorded at The East include:
Pharoah Sanders, Live at The East
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Andrew Schrock, “Return to the East: Brooklyn Reclaims the Black Art Form Known as Jazz.” Wax Poetics. Link also includes interviews and other resources.
Kwasi Konadu, A View from the East: Black Cultural Nationalism and Education in New York City, Syracuse University Press, 2009 buy | find in library
“Memories of the East” mixtape, featuring host Dwight Brewster and musicians Neil Clark and Randy Weston.