Dr. E. L. Kornegay, Jr., Beauford Delaney scholar and frequent contributor to the Les Amis blog, shared some phenomenal news with me a few weeks ago - he has founded a not-for-profit institution called the
Image courtesy of Dr. Kornegay
The mission of BDI is to teach critical thinking and decision making to youth and young adults. Kornegay's curriculum uses literature and the arts in addition to theo-philosophical approaches to critical theory to assist students in re-imagining themselves and the world in which they live. One of the critical aims is to use what Beauford and Baldwin taught the world to guide youth into their vocation and away from violence.
I asked Kornegay why he chose to name the institute after Beauford and Baldwin. He replied:
I chose to name my Institute after James Baldwin and Beauford Delaney to celebrate the importance of the love and respect these two black men had for one another and to honor the genius of their vocations captured in art and literature. Their concern for the safety of youth exemplified in Beauford’s mentoring of Baldwin and Baldwin’s own writing offers a unique molding of humanity that we can all learn from. The “unusual door” is not merely about the acceptance of a sexualized, gendered or racialized self, but the strength to love and live the greatest and truest vision of your being in spite of the unexamined fear and rage which tries to kill it. I want to use the inextricably connected legacies of words, images, and deeds given to us by Baldwin and Delaney to empower the next generation to make the decision to walk through the unusual door where, on the other side, vocation inspires them to live out the brightest vision they have of their lives.
BDI classes are scheduled to begin on Monday, May 20, 2013 with a summer intensive at Chicago Theological Seminary entitled "Baldwin and Christianity." Among the activities planned is a visit to the Art Institute of Chicago to view Beauford's self-portrait and talk about his influence on Baldwin. In preparation, students will be required to read posts from the Les Amis blog.
Oil on canvas (1944)
Art Institute of Chicago
© Estate of Beauford Delaney, by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire, Court Appointed Administrator
Projections for future activities include a visit to Paris so that students can walk the streets and visit the haunts that were so important to Baldwin and Beauford.
To learn more about BDI on the Web, visit its pages on Facebook and Google+.
Baldwin Delaney Institute for Academic Enrichment and Faith Flourishing
224 1st Avenue
Maywood, IL 60153