Malcolm Burnley, Editor of the College Hill Independent, on Minister Malcolm X

Malcolm Burnley

PROVIDENCE, RI [Brown University] – Brown University senior, Malcolm Burnley, editor of the College Hill Independent will reveal a little-known chapter in the remarkable life of African American icon and civil rights leader Minister Malcolm X. The event will take place Thursday, February 9 at 5:30pm in Brown University’s John Hay Library, and is hosted by The Rhode Island Black Heritage Society.

The Black History Month event will include audio excerpts from Malcolm X’s never-before-heard 1961 speech and a presentation of Burnley’s ongoing research and non-fiction writing project.

In the spring of 1961, Malcolm X toured the country as spokesman for the Black Muslim movement in America, the Nation of Islam. After the University of California, Berkeley barred him from speaking at the school, he traveled to Providence on May 11, 1961 for the first and only time of his life. That evening, before a rapt audience of 800 at Brown University’s Sayles Auditorium, he delivered a forceful endorsement of black power and a holistic rejection of the American political establishment. His delivery was condemnatory of white oppression and dismissive of integration, which he believed was slowing the civil rights movement.

An excerpt of his address reads: “A hundred years have passed by since the Emancipation Proclamation. The politicians have promised us false promises, they have lied to us, they have tricked us. And today we recognize their words as political subterfuge. Therefore, we reject politics, we reject the politicians and we reject political solutions.”

Fifty years later, Malcolm Burnley stumbled upon a lone image of Malcolm X in the Brown University archives at the John Hay Library. Intrigued by the discovery, Burnley began the vigorous research that led him to the undiscovered recording of Malcolm X’s speech and the discussion that followed.

“It was sent to the John Hay Library a year ago by Katharine Pierce and shelved indefinitely,” said Malcolm Burnley. “I was the first to request access to it, and the tape was then digitized from its original form.”

In order to situate the previously undocumented Brown event within the context of Malcolm X’s career and a transitional era in Providence civil rights history, Burnley has consulted news coverage from the period, Brown alumni interviews he personally conducted, biographies like the late Dr. Manning Marable’s authoritative Malcom X: A Life Of Reinvention and the recording of Malcolm X’s lecture.

Pierce, a Connecticut native who worked for many years at the Department of Social Welfare in New Haven, and the late Richard Holbrooke—both Brown class of 1962—worked as liaisons to bring Malcolm X to Brown. Ambassador Holbrooke, who served as President Obama’s Special Envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan before his death in 2010, was the Editor-in-Chief at the Brown Daily Herald in 1961. Malcolm X’s visit to Brown University was provoked by Katharine Pierce’s analysis of the Nation of Islam published by Holbrooke. Pierce’s essay, the first written by a female student to appear in the Brown Daily Herald, sparked controversy on campus and was linked to the stabbing of a female student, a mysterious case of attempted murder unsolved to this day.

Still on the trail of Malcolm X and the surrounding story, Malcolm Burnley plans to continue his research throughout the spring semester, his final at Brown. Eventually, he hopes to publish his work of historical nonfiction that, as Burnley said, “continues to evolve.”

Seating at the event is limited. RSVP to (401) 421-0606 or For more information about The Rhode Island Black Heritage Society visit and Facebook.

Brown University Hosts Lantern Festival Gallery Walk

PROVIDENCE, RI [Brown University] – On Monday, February 6, 2012, Brown University’s Year Of China, Brown University Library, The Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology, and Li st Art Center invite you on an early evening Lantern Festival Gallery Walk.

Shana Weinberg, Year of China Coordinator, will lead gallery-goers on thirty minute tours of three exhibits, all displaying unique Chinese collections. The journey will begin at 5:15pm in the John Hay Library with a viewing of Divine Land, Civilization and People: An Exhibition from Chinese Collections, displaying books, pictures and other materials from the Library’s East Asian Collection, John Hay Library’s Special Collections, and Curator Li Wang’s personal collection. Especially, the exhibit includes a variety of objects: folk new year’s paintings, muppet lions, Peking opera makeup, and more. Wang will give a brief talk accompanied by Chinese Lantern Festival refreshments.

At 6pm, participants will visit List Art Center’s The Shape of Good Fortune: Welcoming the Year of the Dragon where materials curated by History of Art & Architecture students, from Professor Maggie Bickford’s class, will be on view.

The evening will culminate with two exhibitions at the Haffenreffer: Crafting Origins:  Creativity and Continuity in Indigenous Taiwan featuring contemporary crafts by indigenous tribes in Taiwan as well as materials culled by a 1960s linguistic anthropologist; and Taoist Gods from China:  Ceremonial Paintings from the Mien including paintings from the Museum’s collection dating to the 17th century depicting the major gods of the Taoist religion.

The Chinese Lantern Festival (Yuanxiao jie 元宵節 or 元宵节, “Yuanxiao Festival”) falls on the fifteenth day of the new year by the lunar calendar—also the day of the first full moon—marking the end of Chinese New Year celebrations. Come celebrate with us! This event is free and open to the public. Participants should arrive at the John Hay Library lobby by 5:15pm.

Contact: Jennifer Braga |  401-863-6913

Jeffrey Schnapp “In the stacks of the livebrary”

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] – On Thursday, February 2, Jeffrey T. Schnapp will give a talk entitled “In the stacks of the livebrary” at 5:30pm in the Lownes Room, John Hay Library, followed by a reception in the lobby. This will be the third talk of the Digital Arts & Humanities 2011-2012 Lecture Series, co-sponsored by the John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage and the Brown University Library.

Schnapp is a cultural historian who works in the digital humanities and on digital approaches to cultural programming. He is a fellow at Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, a Professor of Romance Languages & Literatures and Comparative Literature, a teaching faculty member at the Graduate School of Design, and the faculty director of metaLAB (at) Harvard. Before moving to Harvard in 2011, Schnapp occupied the Pierotti Chair of Italian Studies at Stanford, where he founded the Stanford Humanities Lab. His most recent books are Speed Limits and The Electric Information Age Book (a collaboration with the designer Adam Michaels of Project Projects)(Princeton Architectural Press, January 2012). Also forthcoming in 2012 are Digital_Humanities (MIT Press) a book co-written with Anne Burdick, Johanna Drucker, Peter Lunenfeld, and Todd Presner; Modernitalia (Peter Lang), a collection of essays on 20th century Italian cultural history being edited by Francesca Santovetti, and Italiamerica (Il Saggiatore), vol. 2, co-edited with Emanuela Scarpellini.

The Digital Arts & Humanities Lecture Series is free and open to the public. More information about the series is available here.

Contact: Jennifer Braga |  401-863-6913


Brown University’s Digital Garibaldi Scroll Tours Italy

Garibaldi sits upon his horse wearing a broad-brimmed hat with an ostrich feather in it and an American poncho; his servant who came with him from America rides behind him. Story, J. J. (Nottingham: 1860). 1 scene; 147.5 x 258.6 cm. Reformatted digital.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] – The Brown University “Garibaldi on the Surface” project is featured again in international exhibitions.  A centerpiece in last year’s British Library exhibition, “Growing Knowledge – the Evolution of Research,” the digital scroll was recently on display in Bologna Salaborsa (November 15-30, 2011) as part of the Storia da toccare [History to Touch]: the Panorama Garibaldi at Salaborsa, and is currently on view through January 15 in the Sala del Risorgimento of Siena’s Palazzo Pubblico.  In Siena the inauguration of the Garibaldi exhibit coincided with the opening event of the International Council of Museums Conference. Several museum directors as well as the German president of the association were present with Brown’s Italian Studies Professor Massimo Riva who coordinated the display of the panorama.  Both exhibits were sponsored by Microsoft Research and included Microsoft touchscreens and displays.

Once a “moving” panorama created around 1860 by John James Story, the Garibaldi panorama is one of the few remaining examples of this type of commercial entertainment that was commonly available in the 1800s.  In 2007, with financial support from the Department of Italian Studies and Vincent J. Buonanno (Brown ’66), the Brown University Library digitized the panorama and added it to the Garibaldi/Risorgimento website.  Later in 2009 the Brown University Library in conjunction with Brown’s Computer Science Department, co-sponsored by Microsoft Research, embarked on a pilot project to exhibit the panorama with the Microsoft Surface.

Garibaldi on the Surface allows users to explore and examine this massive double-sided 270 foot linear painting depicting the life and times of the Italian liberator, along with a wide array of pre-selected historically and culturally relevant digital documents, images, web pages, video and audio narration from the Garibaldi-Risorgimento digital archive.  Researchers can zoom in and out on specific scenes, listen to a voice-over narration in both Italian and English, access embedded documents, and read explanatory notes about characters and events depicted in the panorama.

Further exhibitions are in the works. Visitors to the digital archive can retrieve additional information about panoramas and dioramas as optical devices and popular representational media in 19th-century Europe. A video about the scroll is also available online.

The Brown University Library is home to more than 6.8 million print items, plus a multitude of electronic resources and expanding digital archives serving the teaching, research, and learning needs of Brown students and faculty, as well as scholars from around the country and the world.

Contact: Jennifer Braga |  401-863-6913