Clara Rockmore, Thereministe, Activist for Racial Justice, and Pal of Paul Robeson

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Yesterday, the Brooklyn Museum opened Legacy of Lynching: Confronting Racial Terror in America. While it does too much to let the police off the hook — Trayvon Martin, killed by a civilian, gets a lot of attention, but none of the 121 Black people killed by police in 2017 are named — it’s still a great, necessary show. We can probably blame the corporate sponsor, Google. Praise to the Brooklyn Museum for using this opportunity to feature a great sample of its rich collection of works by Black American artists, including a rare collaboration between Kara Walker and Toni Morrison, and kudos to the Equal Justice Initiative, the exhibit’s collaborator, for its insistence of the continuity between lynching and the American death penalty.

I’m writing this, however, for something much more minor, but also as an invitation to screenwriters and playwrights. One display case highlights the Brooklyn Museum’s sponsorship of a mid 1930s Manhattan Gallery show dedicated to combating lynching. I was curious to see who was on the committee. Some expected names appear, like Countee Cullen; those of you who know the field will no doubt recognize many more. Who caught my eye was Clara Rockmore. You know, Clara Rockmore.

Am I completely certain it’s her? Nothing is certain, no. But yes, it’s her.[1] She’s listed with one Robert Rockmore, a name coincidentally shared by the husband of the famous thereministe.rockmore

Furthermore, a quick google books search (for Clara Rockmore naacp) gets me this excerpt, from a Paul Robeson biography:

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Or this here:

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Pavlik and Clarochka hit the road: a Jewish immigrant theramiste paling around with a Black American Communist, performing and laughing: this is a movie that needs to be made.


[1] For fans of the predicate nominative: “Am I completely certain it’s she? Nothing is certain, no. But yes, it’s she.”

 

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