Virgin Islander Kaeche Liburd has joined the PBS production team for The American Masters – Marian Anderson: “The Whole World In Her Hands,” which will air nationwide Tuesday, February 8 at 9:00 p.m. EST, 10:00 p.m. AST.
In honor of Black History Month and February 27, 1897, Anderson’s 125th birthday, the documentary will inform audiences of recorded conversations, artifacts and thousands of letters and photographs. According to American director Rita Coburn, “Anderson’s words, thoughts, and feelings are embedded in the film and reveal a tenacity that belied its time and gender.”
As a documentarian herself, St. Thomas native Liburd was aroused by Anderson’s story, and she jumped right in with his offers to join the PBS production team. “It was a kind of synergy where I took the time to express what came out of it. It was not only the opportunity to learn more about Marian Anderson, but also the interest – to what point we impact the arts both against the tide and against adversity.
Liburd felt an immense sense of pride, she said, but she was particularly interested in the “who and the” why “of Anderson. “I like a story of ‘overcoming,’ and Marian Anderson is that story. .”
“While black history is celebrated, so many people who come to it recently are not always sure or clear – depending on their education or stage in life – and they don’t know what it’s for!” They think — Marian Anderson — we’ve outgrown the civil rights movement, so like everything else, there’s no appreciation for the past, Liburd said.
Anderson was an artist-activist who performed in the 1930s on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, joined by tens of thousands of people after she was told she could not perform at the Constitution Hall of the Daughters of the American Revolution because of a “whites only” concert. Politics. She gained interracial support from First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, the NAACP, Howard University, and other leaders of her time.
It fits with a lot of American history and American history. You’re American until we tell you you’re not, or not American enough…and we, as black women, know it, Liburd said.
“That’s what gives her more power…past performances…women stepping into their own space and taking control of their lives is super important, especially at a time when people have to stand up for their humanity. I’m especially excited when women can also make their way.
Liburd’s interest in the arts did not begin with his desire to learn more about Marian Anderson. She played saxophone in the elementary school band taught by Senator Steven Payne and learned piano from Pastor White at Smith Bay. “Music is a wonderful legacy, whether you play it or not,” she said. “It’s alive in you.”
“Even though I was pursuing a career in science, which I studied in college, I still took a dance class and had the opportunity to do plays. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I kept a whole me, a whole soul. It’s encouraging to see my doctor or engineer friends who have kept the part of art alive in them. This is an important part of his next chapter. It’s to keep the art especially alive for young people, she says.
“I hope this piques the interest of people who may even feel a little distracted, overwhelmed, or otherwise undecided about where life will take them next. I think art is always the experience that lets you go where you want to go and do what you want to do – as the song says – and really, really take a break for the artistic part – to take a movie, a movie is inspiring , if you dare.
Liburd is currently working on a coming-of-age story about a Caribbean girl. Its provisional name is “The Way” or “The Immigrant’s Way”. This is for anyone making a geographic shift…whether economically or culturally, she said. It’s about seeing how those changes can go against the grain for someone and also for the people in their life, she said. The story continues as the person navigates the expectations in “adult goals” or “re-adult goals.” Liburd readers can expect this new literary adventure in the near future.
Kaeche Liburd wrote, produced and directed “I Am the Diaspora”, which will debut at this year’s Pan-African Film Festival. She said it started as a curious exploration of how identity is found and how you answer the question “Who are you?” “We have the bioassays and all the other things we can look at,” she said. A person who strongly believes in oral tradition, Liburd began interviewing people in Inglewood, California about their childhoods, and the film Diaspora emerged.
She brings to the arts three collections of poetry sold on Amazon.com:
“Powerful People / Powerful Poetry”
“Fill Yourself Up / Poems Powered by You” – Her most recent book, which encourages the reader to keep a journal after each poem.
For more information:
@readytoboss on Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat