"Jayne's Voice of Jazz": Rest In Peace

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A Jazz poet and a Pan Africanist activist, Jayne Cortez, who passed away on December 28, was the living embodiment of intense language and poetry itself. 

Many writers, teachers, and scholars participated in one of her projects - "Slave Routes in the Long Memory" at New York University in 1991.  Jayne Cortez gave a charge to our young people to stop using the word "nigger," and to dig out our hidden history from the libraries in Europe.  I can still see see Dr. Ivan Van Sertima selling his copies of "They Came Before Columbus" at this conference.

Also, speakers at this conference advised young scholars to learn Portuguese, Spanish, English, Dutch, and all of the languages of our colonizers to understand our story of the Middle Passage.  

Innovative, Jayne Cortez started her own press, the Bola Press, and she later formed a band, "The Firespitter" to express herself. In the middle of an examination of the impact of sexism on culture, Jayne organized women writers. With Ghana's Ama Ata Aidoo, she organized the Organization of Women Writers of Africa (OWWA)  to share the voices of women writers with African ancestry.  

She married Ornette Coleman in 1954; her son Denardo Coleman is a current Jazz drummer.  Her second husband, Mel Edwards, supported her artistry and projects.  

Born on May 10, 1936 in Fort Huachuca, Arizona, Jayne Cortez was raised in California. She published 10 books and nine musical recordings with her poetry. 

In "On The Imperial Highway: New And Selected Poems ( 2008), Jayne left us with a hopeful direction.  

Bye bye, blackbird.

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