Black Art and Poetry Elevate a Tribute to Civil Rights Leaders

The poet Carl Hancock Rux, who wrote and narrated The Baptism, directed by the photographer Carrie Mae Weems. Courtesy of Carrie Mae Weems.

Visual artist Carrie Mae Weems and poet Carl Hancock Rux collaborated to make The Baptism, a short abstract video that serves as a tribute to late Civil Rights veterans John Lewis and C.T. Vivian. Writer Maya Phillips meditates on how this film connects with the contemporary weight and resonance of Blackness within this year marked by political unrest and a global health crisis, in this feature for The New York Times. Commissioned by the Lincoln Center for Performing Arts, The Baptism is a eulogy that never feels grim in its experimental style and philosophical import.

You can watch The Baptism, read the transcript, and listen to interviews here.

“The Baptism” recreates the Black body as the flower, as the field, as the seminal building blocks of life, even as architecture.” - Maya Phillips