Art, activism and Darfur

Debra Kapnek, Child of Darfur, panel painting

A neighbor of mine, Jim Remsen, stopped by last week to pitch a story about the Darfur Speakers Tour, April 2-9 in various churches, synagogues and schools in the Philadelphia region. Jim was acting as volunteer press coordinator and everyone else involved locally was volunteering, including an artist, Debra Kapnek whose monumental painting of a Darfur child will appear at each event. The 8′ x 6′ photorealist panel painting based on a photograph taken by former U.S. Marine Captain Brian Steidle will be a haunting backdrop for the speakers. (See more on Kapnek at her website.)

Steidle’s talk at the Free Library in Philadelphia a while back was the catalyst for my neighbor Jim’s getting involved in the Darfur Speakers project. Steidle was part of the peace keeping coalition in Darfur and as an observer, he took hundreds of photographs of the atrocities committed. More on Steidle and his photos at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum website.

The speakers series in Philadelphia is a warm up for a nation-wide tour the speakers will take that ends April 30 in Washington DC with a “Million Voices for Darfur” rally.

The talks are free and open to the public. The speakers are Darfurian natives who will be coming from Darfur or from their homes elsewhere in America or Canada. (Two speakers live in Philadelphia: Fatima M. Haroun who grew up in the Darfuri region of Sudan and currently works as a social worker for the city of Philadelphia children and Youth Dept. and Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, from Sudan, who is Outreach Director with the University of Pennsylvania’s African Studies Center and founder of the online Darfur Information Center. Other useful links about the Darfur crisis: Africa Action and the local Darfur Alert Coalition which tells you how to get involved.

Here’s the lineup for this very worthy series:

Sunday, April 2, 4 pm, Vine Memorial Baptist Church, 56gh and Girard Ave., West Philadelphia

Tuesday, April 4, 7:30 pm, Main Line reform Temple, 410 Montgomery Ave, Wynnewood

Wednesday, April 5, 7 pm, Mount Airy Church of God in Christ, 6401 Ogontz Ave., Oak Lane

Thursday, April 6, 7:30 pm, Arch St. Meetinghouse, 4th and Arch Sts, Center City

Friday, April 7, 7 pm, Muslim American Museum and Archives, 4243 Lancaster Ave, West Philadelphia

Sunday, April 9, 4 pm, Congregation Adath Jeshurun, 7763 Old York Rd, Elkins Park