DVD and DVD + 3-Year Site/Local Streaming
91 minutes, 2015, English SDH (subtitled for the Deaf and hard-of-hearing) Produced and Directed by Barbara Attie, Janet Goldwater and Sabrina Schmidt Gordon
ABOUT THE FILM
BaddDDD Sonia Sanchez offers unprecedented access to the life, work and mesmerizing performances of renowned poet and activist Sonia Sanchez who describes herself as "a woman with razor blades between my teeth." A leading figure in the Black Arts Movement and inspiration to today's hip hop spoken word artists, Sanchez for over 60 years has helped to redefine American culture and politics as an activist in the Black, women's and peace movements.
Maya Angelou called Sanchez "a lion in literature's forest" while spoken word artist Bryonn Bain credits her with paving the way for his generation, "She not only opened the door, she blew off the roof." Sanchez revolutionized poetry by incorporating street language, a unique performance style and collaborations with jazz musicians.
Sanchez's contemporaries Ruby Dee, Amiri Baraka, John Bracey, Jr., Haki Madhubuti and Nikki Giovanni joined by such newer voices as Talib Kweli, Ayana Mathis, jessica Care moore, Bryonn Bain and Questlove present impassioned readings of and insightful commentary on her fearless verse, including her raw love poems.
Born in Birmingham, Alabama Sanchez grew up in Harlem, attended college in New York and studied with former US poet laureate Louise Bogan who introduced her to the importance of poetic form. In the early 1960s, Sanchez was active in the New York City chapter of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and, inspired by Malcolm X, channeled her heightened political commitment into her poetry. She joined with Leroi Jones (Amiri Baraka) in forming the Black Arts Repertory Theatre in Harlem and like many poets of the Black Arts Movement, wrote her work to be performed on the streets where it could provoke action.
In 1965, Sanchez moved to the San Francisco Bay Area, teaching some of the first Black Studies courses in the nation and participated in the San Francisco State Strike which succeeded in establishing the country's first Ethnic Studies Department. She supported the programs of the Black Panther Party (BPP) and contributed articles to its newspaper. When she wrote a critical review of BPP Minister of Information Eldridge Cleaver's Soul on Ice ("No man practices rape on Black women in order to rape white women. That's not a revolutionary, that's a hustler.") the piece was never published and Party representatives later threatened her.
After leaving the Bay Area she joined the Nation of Islam for the stability and protection it offered a single mother but soon left because of its restrictions on women. Meanwhile tenured faculty positions alluded her because college administrations were wary of her steadfast activism. Settling at Temple University in Philadelphia – eventually named that city's poet laureate - Sanchez earned a reputation as an accessible and generous teacher and mentor to the young, as seen in her lively engagement with her students and the broader community.
BaddDDD Sonia Sanchez, (named after her legendary early collection We a BaddDDD People) will be popular with students and faculty as an accessible resource for teaching English, Creative Writing, African American and Women's Studies, as well as for public programming and deepening public library's video offerings.
Here is an index of poems by Sonia Sanchez that she or others read in BaddDDD Sonia Sanchez, the time code for when they occur and the books in which they appear. A complete list of Sonia Sanchez's works can be found here.
"Sonia Sanchez is that precious being who stands for right, when all around her might be sitting down. She is a true sister, friend, poet, warrior, beloved. This film recognizes her beautiful spirit, magnanimous heart, incisive words. There is no poet who sounds like Sonia Sanchez. Only perhaps the wind that makes music in endangered trees. We are blessed."
"A revelation! It brings to the fore the story of one of the most important human rights activists, artists, poets, and freedom fighters of the twentieth/twenty-first century. Should be required viewing for a new generation of students, activists, and thinkers."
Peniel E. Joseph, Tufts University
"BaddDDD Sonia Sanchez lives up to its name and its namesake's legacy while taking us into the heart, soul and history of Black art and culture. More importantly it provides us with a better understanding of the intimate relationship between Black Power, the Black Arts Movement and all significant Black artistic and political movements that followed in subsequent eras."
Joseph F. Jordan, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
"This film is both an archive and testament...A moving, mind-blowing portrait of an artist and the generations that she has and continues to inspire. To watch Sanchez craft and revise her poems, to witness her evolution from child-stutterer to wordplay sage, and to hear her unflinching commitment to freedom struggles is salvation for us all in these weary days."
Salamishah Tillet, University of Pennsylvania
"This film can be used for high school and college students and in public forums to inspire discourse about civil rights, women's studies and women's empowerment. Highly recommended."
Educational Media Reviews Online
"An illuminating and inspiring profile of an influential figure who helped bring about significant social change."